The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review

The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


What trends have shaped our industry over the past twelve months? In this 2021 year in review, we look at the most interesting shifts in the world of bread, patisserie and chocolate from a consumer perspective. Based on our worldwide consumer research and constant online monitoring, we’ve identified these 6 key trends within the nine overarching themes Ultimate Convenience, Next Level Experience, Taste, Craft, Freshness, Health, Hyperpersonal, Transparency and Ethical Lifestyle:


Let’s have a closer look at each of them:


Next Level Experience

Biggest trend: Stores combining their offline and online strengths to create a phygital experience

Haven’t heard of the phygital experience yet? Then now’s the time to get acquainted with this concept where the physical and the digital consumer experience is seamlessly integrated. This year we’ve seen more and more brick-and-mortar stores expand into the online sphere and vice versa with options for click-and-collect or home delivery. 


Physical stores stay

While an online presence is a must, 77% of people would not like to see the end of stores in the street. This calls for a strategy that ties together physical shops, digital communication channels and the in-home experience of consumers. Make sure customers can see the art of baking in action at your shop like in the London E5 Bakehouse, where shoppers can ask the baker questions and people can sit down for a coffee as well. 


Online inspiration

By offering options for click-and-collect shops have tied online and offline together, often necessitated by lockdowns. But that’s not enough for the digitally savvy consumer. We asked what people expect from food retailers online, and this is what we got back:

  • 48% Wants a one-stop online shop

  • 47% Likes to get inspired via online media on the product offer of local shops

So pastry brands and bakeries that offer real-life, authentic storytelling are thriving. They inspire consumers by showing behind-the-scenes videos of their staff creating chocolates or transparently sharing information about every step in their supply chain. 


Want to try communicating with your audience online as well? Draw some inspiration from these 9 bakery and patisserie influencers with massive TikTok followings.


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


Craft & Freshness

Biggest trend: Packaged food is gaining ground with its perceived freshness & hygiene

While fresh food is still considered to be of the highest quality, due to the pandemic, packaged food is catching up. Especially packaged bread, buns and cakes have become more appealing over the last year. The packaging gives a promise of freshness, adds to the quality perception and gives a feeling of safety in terms of hygiene. 

In our survey, we found out there are three main indicators people use to determine how fresh a baked good product is. Those are: 

  1. Smell and aroma for 54% of consumers

  2. Overall appearance and colour for 47% of consumers

  3. When a product was baked for 47% of consumers

When asked to evaluate the overall food quality, consumers come up with the following ranking: fresh food (84%), pre-baked goods (50%), packaged food (45%) and frozen food (41%). 


Hygiene matters

Hygiene will continue to be an important trend for the time coming, which means packaged products will remain favourable. But bakeries should take note as well. Less than half of consumers (41%) think unpacked food handled by shop owners is safe. And only a third of consumers think unpacked food that can be picked freely is safe. Taking extra hygienic measures to reassure hygiene-conscious consumers will definitely pay off.


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review



Biggest trend: Bakery products with an eye-catching appearance that enhances the taste experience

The number one criterion to buy bakery products is taste, which will remain the same. But over the last year, we have seen a spike in interest for bakery products that have looks as well as taste. Social media has sparked a trend of lavish treats that look good on camera, think interesting shapes, abundant sparkles and crazy colours.


What looks good is tasty

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are highly visual. Without beautiful, impressive or fun photos and videos, it’s hard to build an audience there. This focus on looks is further fueled by online shopping, causing 59% of consumers to agree that food that looks good to the eyes is tasty too. Especially younger generations are sensitive to the visual aspect and prize Instagrammable food experiences.


Curious as to what eye-candy works best? Check out these 6 viral TikTok recipes for baked goods and chocolate.


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


Health & Hyperpersonal 

Biggest trend: Within health foods, there’s a new focus for gut health & mental health

Consumers now know more about their nutrition than ever before, so health remains an important consumption driver. With good information available at their fingertips, a lot of people have become aware of how food impacts their health and which ingredients have a positive or negative effect on their well-being. In 2021, we’ve seen consumers on the lookout for food products that can improve their gut health and mental health.


Gut health

The general approach to nutrition is becoming more holistic. We see increased attention to the ways in which food impacts both their physical and mental well-being:

  • 72% of consumers have an interest in food products that improve gut health

  • 78% of consumers think that improving gut health will have a positive effect on the immune system

To improve their gut health, people reach for natural food solutions such as nutrient-rich leafy greens and fermented products or probiotics, such as kombucha, kimchi or sourdough bread. 63% of people agree that prebiotics are a trusted way to improve their gut health and digestion. The perceived positive link between gut health and fibre is even stronger with 81%.


Mental health foods

Mental health is still growing as a health food trend, but already 63% of consumers say they look for food that delivers on mental health. And here we see the holistic health approach come through as well: 75% of people agree that improving gut health has a positive effect on mental well-being.


Reducing stress & emotional boosts

Some consumers look for food with ingredients that actively work to reduce stress, but the link between food and mental health doesn’t have to be that intricate. It can be as simple as eating chocolate when consumers experience stress or anxiety. This is no longer seen as ‘having a weak moment’, but eating chocolate or baked goods for a short-term emotional boost is now part of a well-balanced lifestyle. 


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


Transparency & Ethical Lifestyle

Biggest trend: Conscious Consumerism, people want to know how food impacts the planet and the well-being of others and animals

Consumers are well aware of what they eat, 66% want to be informed on where their food comes from and how it is made. But Conscious Consumerism goes further than that. The conscious consumers also care about the impact of their food. Do the vegetables used have a high water usage? Do the eggs come from free-range chickens? And do coffee farmers get fair pay for their products?


Conscious Consumerism

This trend towards conscious and ethical shopping – fuelled by the climate crisis – can be seen in all sectors, not just in supermarkets, bakeries and pastry shops. Sustainability has become central to consumer’s purchasing decisions, as they seek to leave a better world for this generation and future ones. The most important focus areas for people who want to do good by eating good are: plant-based, organic, natural ingredients, local support and waste management.


Plant-based diets

Plant-based eating is becoming especially popular. 60% of consumers buy plant-based food and the weekly purchasing of plant-based food has doubled compared to 2018. Now, 30% buy plant-based food at least once a week.

But opting for plant-based foods or a fully plant-based diet does not stem from environmental concerns only. The impact of food choices on one's personal health plays an important role as well:

  • 60% Agrees plant-based food has a positive impact on the environment

  • 56% Agrees plant-based food is healthier than animal-based food


What you eat is who you are

Today food is so much more than nutrition alone, it is linked to identity and social relations. Especially consumers under 25 want to know about the companies they buy from, because what they eat should reflect who they are. So cater to these consumers by offering information on how your products impact the planet plus the well-being of others and animals yourself. 


Guilt-free snacking on plant-based options is the way forward, these 5 concepts lead the way.


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


Ultimate Convenience

Biggest trend: Stores & brands have a lively online presence with online shopping and home delivery options 

Having a rich online presence with social media pages and a website with information on products is expected. Consumers check online reviews and Instagram pages before visiting a new shop or ordering food from a café, so in order to stay relevant businesses have to be online. That’s where most of the shopping happens anyway.


Click & order

The lockdowns over the past year have sped up the move towards online shopping as well:

  • 12% of global consumers buy groceries online at least weekly

  • 17% orders take-out meals online at least weekly

  • 57% thinks all shops and restaurants should offer the possibility of home delivery

And 37% of consumers are even ready for fully automated food delivery without human intervention, they would like their cakes to be delivered with self-driving cars or drones.


Quality assurance

The biggest challenge this trend brings for the bakery and patisserie industry is reassuring consumers that the freshness and quality of the bakery and patisserie products they purchase online are the same as those they buy in-store. So offer information on how your preparation, packaging and delivery times ensure super fresh products to enjoy at home.


The biggest trends in bakery, patisserie and chocolate sectors: 2021 year in review


Zoom in even further

Interested in specific data for your market? We also have detailed information on these trends for specific countries or continents. Get in touch with your local representative to get exclusive numbers about your customer base.