JACKSON, MI — Dawn Foods, a supplier of a wide range of bakery items from mixes to icings to fully baked products, has released its latest flavor trends report, looking back on the powerhouses of 2021.

Six trends were identified as major players in the flavor world. From familiar and comforting favorites to new territory, here were the top themes.


“All things chocolate”

A staple flavor for many consumers, chocolate once again enjoyed immense popularity with shoppers. With all the stress of the pandemic and beyond, people turned to chocolate items for solace. The study stated that North American sales of chocolate is $20.7 billion annually, No. 2 in the global market, proving that chocolate is a cornerstone of consumer palette.

But chocolate also became more adventurous with new and unique flavor combinations such as sweet and spicy. A total of 71% of North American consumers said they want to try new and exciting chocolate experiences, according to the study, leaving the door open for plenty of experimentation.

Upgraded comfort

If the chaos of this new decade has taught us anything, it’s that comfort is a critical force in consumers’ lives. As the world seemed to be falling apart around them, shoppers looked for treats and a moment of familiarity with an updated twist. The sweet spot is calling back to an old favorite while also marrying it to something new.

Some flavor considerations that call on comfort include s’more, classic soda flavors, birthday cake, PB&J, cookies and cream, and salted caramel, among many others.


Bold and spicy flavors

Riding the wave of praise that spicy and boldly flavored foods have been getting lately, the market was right to bring those elements into sweet treats as well.

Flavors such as cayenne, rosemary, whiskey, basil, black pepper and anise made their way into the baked goods categories, and it looks like consumers will be loving them for the long haul. The report cited that 63% of consumers claimed to like or love basil and that there is a projected 35% four-year menu growth for sriracha, an immensely popular hot sauce.

Items like bourbon caramel pecan donut holes and Mexican hot chocolate brownies got their time in the spotlight due to this trend and will continue to be popular into 2022.

Immune boost

Shoppers are more concerned about their health now than ever. They sought out food and beverages that would support their health goals but also taste great, with the report citing that almost a third of consumers are using functional foods and beverages daily as a result of the pandemic. Functional ingredients were huge across the entire food and beverage market, and baked goods were no exception.

Items with citrus and berries, apple cider vinegar, dark chocolate, ginger, green tea, and turmeric are just a few flavor considerations that have relevance with this trend.


Coffee and tea

Morning coffee and tea is a part of many consumers’ rituals, but they also craved the flavor in desserts and other baked goods too. Items like pumpkin latte cupcakes, chai-spiced donuts and lavender flavored baked goods enjoyed a lot of popularity this year. Other flavor considerations include mocha and floral flavors.

Worldwide flavor inspiration

Piggybacking on the boom international flavors experienced, new tastes and ingredients from global cuisines made their way into baked goods. When consumers couldn’t travel the world via an airplane, their taste buds stepped in to give them new experiences through global flavors, with a third of consumers eating global cuisines per week.

Popular flavor considerations include mochi, moringa, ginseng, cacao, matcha and the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, which was also highlighted in Whole Foods’ trend forecast for 2022.

To access the full Dawn Foods report, click here.