“Just walk out technology” has arrived at Amazon Go, with four retail stores (the newest in New York City) and counting. Customers walk in, select what they need and exit the store. No lines. No checkout. A virtual cart adds every product you pick up, and the receipt is sent straight to your app.

Autonomous food delivery and production is coming fast, and 5% of grocery shopping is now completed online.

While 74% of shoppers typically purchase functional items at their primary food store, conversion is much lower of indulgent items/desserts (63%) and special occasion items (40%), according to the inaugural Power of Bakery 2019 Report from The American Baker’s Association (ABA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

Portion control is huge. “Particularly with indulgent items, people want a product that knocks their socks off. They just want it a little smaller,” says Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the ABA.

Celebration “themed” pizzas are hot, according to Ardent Mills. Seasonality and food holidays offer more ways to create festive eating occasions like National Bakery Day (Sept. 27, 219) or Fall Harvest Fest. Themed pizzas can capture some of this celebratory spirit and serve well as limited-time offers.

Convenience and entertaining “are growing like gangbusters,” says Jonna Parker, fresh foods market research expert with IRI. “There is a consumer need for convenience, and that’s what we need to be talking about.”

“Fresh” is the universal winner of production-related claims that matter to consumers, mentioned by seven in 10 shoppers overall and nearly eight in 10 Boomers, reports the Power of Bakery. “Fresh” and “baked today” are easily the two most popular production-related claims out of the list of 12 options. When asked to define freshness, particularly as it relates to functional bakery items, shoppers first point to the date and time.

Traditional food categories have dissolved because “our virtual way of listening and watching has changed our way of thinking about categories,” says Kevin Ryan, founder and CEO of Malachite Strategy and Research and former Amazon.com senior brand strategist. To combat the “endless scroll” of web surfers, retailers must “enhance your first moment of truth, require interaction and supply continual awe.”

As witnessed in many of the grocery perimeter departments, significant numbers of shoppers have a dual-store strategy, in which they purchase center-store groceries in one store and bakery items in another, according to Power of Bakery. Channel switching is highest for special occasion items, such as birthday cakes/cupcakes, and lowest for functional items. Stand-alone bakery specialty stores take a majority share of the switchers across all three categories.

The environment and sustainability are topics “that you can’t not talk about,” says Barb Stuckey, president and chief innovation officer at Mattson. “In bakery, we are watching alternative flours. We think we are going to see a lot more of this.”

Sales of plant-based foods have outpaced sales of conventional foods by a factor of 10 in the past few years, says Rick Findlay, IDDBA chairman and vice president of fresh for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. “This is a trend we cannot ignore.”

The global sourdough bread market is forecast to grow 6.9% annually through 2023, according to Mordor Intelligence. From craft breweries to the proliferation of kombucha products and a focus on digestive health, sourdough has an opportunity to capture those same consumers, but with bread. According to a 2017 survey commissioned by research firm Ingredient Communications, 73% of consumers said they are willing to pay more at retail for products made with ingredients they trust and recognize.

By 2020, roughly half of Gen Z, Y and X will be multicultural, says Terry Soto, noted author and adviser on multicultural markets. “Consumers of other cultures are just consumers. They have the power to grow sales,” she says. “There is a $20 billion Hispanic market, and Asian, African and Middle Eastern are growing in leaps and bounds. There are six steps to success: see the future, keep an open mind, understand core market changes, define consumption and buying behavior, get to know them personally, and organize to take action.”

Toum, a Lebanese condiment featuring garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, is “coming on strong,” says foodservice analyst Nancy Kruse. Zhoug, a blend of hot pepper, garlic and cilantro, and za’atar, a combination of green herbs, sesame and olive oil, are gaining momentum on mainstream menus as flavorful in sandwiches.

Cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) as two leading restaurant trends heading into 2019, according to an annual survey of chefs from the American Culinary Federation. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kruse says. The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, which cleared the way for the cultivation, production, and commercial activity in the United States. CBD is derived from hemp. “Does that mean we are therefore legally everywhere allowed to ingest CBD?” Kruse says. “No. That’s coming on more slowly, subject to lots of legal variations by state and by city.”