LONDON — In 2020, dining in became the new dining out. As restaurants shut their doors during the pandemic, consumers looked for ways to replicate those dishes at home, whether it was enjoying a home-cooked fine dining experience, or trying products that supported the latest trends in health and wellness.

As the restaurants reopen and consumers are no longer homebound, these culinary behaviors have varying degrees of staying power that will influence bakery and snack product innovation.


Comfort and indulgence were hallmarks of the pandemic, which triggered growth across nearly every baked good category. It also drove consumer proclivity to the familiar — with a twist — that could well maintain its stronghold. A recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll suggests that 28% of Americans are eating more baked goods, with 42% citing a sense of comfort and 41% citing a way to induce happiness as their reasons, respectively. And flavors like chocolate, fruit and citrus — those with nostalgic familiarity — are also resonating with consumers, especially when elevated to a fine dining-like experience in quality of ingredients and execution.

Such is the case for London-based Pots & Co, which sells its products in Costcos across the US. The company crafts Michelin-quality desserts in its signature ceramic pots using single-origin Fino de Aroma chocolate sourced from farms in Colombia. “We’ve translated a basic fine dining philosophy to our products: Keep things simple and search the world for the best possible ingredients,” said Pots & Co’s founder, Chef Julian Dyer. “We know that people want the classics done really well. Our products tend to be a bit more expensive because of that, but that’s the tradeoff for raising the bar.”

28% of Americans are eating more baked goods, with 42% citing a sense of comfort and 41% citing a way to induce happiness as their reasons, respectively.


Bringing these small luxuries into consumers’ homes is also a factor driving innovation at Richmond, CA-based Brioche Pasquier | Galaxy Desserts. One of its newest products, Freezer to Oven Croissants, was crafted by Master Pastry Chef Jean Yves Charon and doesn’t need proofing. They can be baked straight from frozen, which provides convenience and indulgence.

However, consumers are also counterbalancing their desire to indulge with their interest in consuming functional foods that contribute to overall mental and physical health and wellness.

The plant-based “revolution” is now mainstream — in restaurants and home kitchens — and plays directly to that consumer need. According to the Specialty Food Association’s State of the Specialty Food Industry 2020-2021 report, the category is expected to increase 10 to 20% annually through 2024. And SPINS data showed that the total plant-based market is growing 29% year over year, nearly double the 15% growth rate of the food-and-beverage market as a whole.

The chip category has been an innovation leader of plant-based alternatives. Products such as Tia Lupita Cactus Tortilla Chips, Plant Snacks Beet with Vegan Goat Cheese Cassava Root Chips, and Farmhouse Culture Dill Pickle Kraut Krisps Snack have taken the world by storm. But desserts and snacks are untapped opportunities for plant-based alternatives, though product innovators are aware of the potential in the space.

“The plant-based trend is one that is really powerful and picking up across categories,” Dyer said. “In baking, we’re seeing experimentation with alternative milks like coconut and oat, and even plant-based chocolates.”


Brioche Pasquier | Galaxy Desserts is also exploring vegan alternatives to eggs and dairy, as well as new chocolates. “As a principle, we are trying to integrate American trends into our French culinary expertise and create unique and tasteful new products,” said Guillaume Perruchet, R&D manager.

Mushrooms are hot in the plant-based culinary trend, though they have not yet reached their full potential in the baking space. Adaptogenic mushrooms, known for their benefits like improving cognitive function, stress and immunity, have been prized among health circles for years, but the culinary world is starting to take note as well, with many hailing them as the “it ingredient” of 2021. Datassential information revealed that on 80% of restaurant menus, mushrooms are one of the top appearing ingredients. And the functional mushroom market is expected to grow 8% by 2024 per a recent ­ report.

Commercial bakeries looking to take advantage of this trend would be wise to explore the use of mushroom powders and extracts in their baked goods. For example, Earthlight Whole Vitamin D, which is produced under PLT Health Solutions, is a mushroom powder that delivers 1000 μg (40,000 IU) of Vitamin D per gram and has received approval of its Food Additive Petition from the USDA for use in a broad range of products ­including breakfast cereals and baked goods.

Chickpeas are also having a moment thanks to the interest in all things plant-based. The legume, which is rich in protein and fiber, was singled out by Whole Foods Market in its Top Food Trends for 2021 as “the new cauliflower,” noting its versatility for use in snacks and baked goods.

According to the Mintel Global New Product Database, the number of US product launches with chickpeas increased 74% in 2019 versus 2018. The number of launches fell 22% in 2020, when compared with the same time in 2019, though that decrease likely has more to do with innovation cutbacks in light of the pandemic.

Austin, TX-based Siete Family Foods introduced Chickpea Flour Tortillas, which gives consumers a convenient way to add nutritional value to favorites like tacos and wraps. Boston-based Biena Snacks now offers a variety of both grain-free and keto-friendly Chickpea Puffs in the baked snack category. And Denver-based 34 Degrees recently released Snaps Baked Chickpea Thins, which include 3 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Individual brands will have to make the call as to how to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, ingredients and flavors that best fit their unique audience. But in this space, there is more than enough room to play.

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