Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Jaina Wald, vice president marketing, Puratos, about its Taste Tomorrow findings, as well as 2021 and 2022 trends and its new Digital AdvisAR tool.

Liz Parker: What value do the new Taste Tomorrow findings offer?

Jaina Wald: Taste Tomorrow is Puratos’ “always-on” proprietary research program that forms the foundation stone for the world’s largest ecosystem for consumer understanding in bakery, patisserie and chocolate. Through its extensive and comprehensive research findings, Taste Tomorrow offers valuable, up-to-the-minute and unmatched insights into the habits and preferences of consumers across the globe.

By delving deep into the buying behaviors and conversations of consumers worldwide, Taste Tomorrow identifies current and future trending topics, illuminating pathways for brand owners, manufacturers, and retailers to successfully navigate the rapidly evolving consumer landscape. Understanding preferences, anticipating what is on the horizon, offering guidance on harnessing the powerful opportunities that may arise, and inspiring innovative product development positions, Taste Tomorrow as a key tool in helping future-focused businesses to stay ahead of the curve in increasingly competitive markets. 

LP: What has been trending in 2021?

JW: Ethics, environment and well-being were significant drivers of 2021 trends, and conscious, health-driven consumerism is expected to flourish in the coming years.  For example, plant-based eating is now the single biggest trend in today’s food industry, with 44 percent of North American Taste Tomorrow respondents embracing plant power, up from 30 percent in 2018. While 52 percent believe plant-based food is good for the environment, 47 percent claim it is better in terms of health. 

Increased focus on health—more specifically holistic health—is also reflected in the growing demand for more nutritious, gut-balancing foods. According to Taste Tomorrow, three quarters (75 percent) of North American consumers recognize the intrinsic link between digestion and fiber, while 70 percent believe improving gut health improves immunity, and two thirds (66 percent) think it positively impacts mental wellbeing. Furthermore, 2021 saw the acceleration of e-commerce, with weekly online grocery shopping doubling in the past three years. Although bread is currently bought online relatively infrequently, due largely to freshness and quality concerns, there are indications this will change. We saw a growing appetite for “one stop” online shopping and one in four people said they had bought bread online recently.

LP: Does Puratos have any baking trend predictions for 2022?

JW: The trends identified in 2021 will greatly influence the choices of 2022’s consumers and the legacy of the pandemic will prevail. For example, demand for plant-based products is expected to persist and grow. This presents challenges as well as opportunities for bakers. The good news is that the industry is reacting. The innovation team at Puratos, for example, has prioritized plant-based developments in recent years, to help support and inspire bakers as they extend their offerings outside of traditional animal-based products in 2022. These include egg wash alternatives, 100 percent plant-based specialty fats and butter alternatives, and—most recently—our plant-based, allergen-free milk-alike chocolate, whose introduction was announced in early December 2021. One of our revolutionary plant-based products is Sunset Glaze, an egg-wash alternative that delivers superior shine and color while overcoming  the challenges bakers may encounter using real eggs, such as allergens and microbiological contamination risk. Puratos conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on Sunset Glaze, which revealed that its environmental impact is 59 percent lower than that of pasteurized eggs. 

We expect increasing incorporation of "power ingredients" into baked goods, such as fiber, grains, fruits, and nuts, as well as a reduction in fats and sugar, in response to consumer demand for healthier alternatives and textural improvements. The rise in online shopping will also impact future buying—but not as you may expect. Taste Tomorrow experts identified the need for a seamless "phygital" experience in the future, combining the advantages of both on- and offline channels. This is to suit the hybrid preferences of the consumer population, who wish to retain the bricks and mortar experience but benefit from the convenience of digital shopping. New technology, such as artificial intelligence and smart technology, will help give better, more personalized recommendations to consumers in-store and online.

LP: How does Puratos’ new Digital AdvisAR tool work?

JW: Digital AdvisAR is an exciting new tool developed within our digitalization strategy and a valuable technical customer service tool. It is an app that instantly connects bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers to Puratos experts via augmented reality (AR).  It was developed to help with trouble-shooting and problem-solving by offering on-demand, real-time expert advice on recipe, technical and quality challenges. Customers can contact the Puratos team through the app, which is available on usual app stores, and connect with an expert using a generated link. Through AR technology, a Puratos’ technical advisor can see what the customer is seeing on their smart device, discuss it, draw on screen, and visually demonstrate where the problem is and how to resolve it in a timely manner. The app is multi-user so all the right Puratos experts can join the conversation and offer additional support or specialist knowledge. 

After an initial launch in the USA, Austria, Brazil, France, Italy, and Turkey, Puratos plans to extend this revolutionary support tool to all other countries of operation. Digitalization sits at the core of our growth strategy and this universal and trailblazing app underlines Puratos’ commitment to fulfilling and exceeding customers’ needs for speed, quality, and efficiency.