Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an all-natural sweetener that aligned with consumers’ needs for guilt-free indulgence in the baking space? Great news! There is. It’s honey.

Honey is up to one-and-a-half times sweeter than sugar, allowing bakers to reduce their overall sweetener usage when using honey in their formulations. And consumers are familiar with honey as both a friendly sweetener — who doesn’t love that iconographic imagery — that is all-natural, thus making it a win-win for bakers and consumers alike, according to Catherine Barry, director of marketing for the National Honey Board, Erie, Colorado.

Taste Paired with Ingredient Listings

Baked goods traditionally have great taste, but consumers now want more than just great taste. They want to know where ingredients are being sourced, why they’re chosen and even why the product itself is being made. Honey is a great ingredient when it comes to telling the story of your product’s flavor. There are more than 300 varietals of honey in the U.S. alone, each with a unique color, taste and flavor, allowing for endless combination opportunities. Further, consumers don’t have to compromise when looking at ingredient listings. Honey is easy to pronounce and easy to recognize. 

Occasions Driving Consumer Wish Lists

When choosing a baked good, the occasion matters more than ever. Perhaps a loaf of bread is used to make a delicious sandwich, or cookies are being used to highlight the ever-popular dessert charcuterie board. Gifting is also on the rise, with baked goods being used as a way to welcome those we’ve been missing for the last couple of years. Honey is a sweetener that can be optimized as a recognizable ingredient in baked good occasions, and it’s a feel-good ingredient that consumers can be proud to share with those closest to them. 

What other sweetener delivers multiple benefits: sweetness, flavor, functionality and marketability? By using honey, bakers can pare down their ingredient listing and appeal to consumers that want all-natural products.

But honey isn't about humans. It's the natural product made by bees—one of our planet's most important animals. Honey bees visit millions of blossoms in their lifetimes, making pollination of plants possible and collecting nectar to bring back to the hive.

Trend Worthy

There are a few new baked goods on the market that meet consumer trend demands while taking advantage of honey’s popularity.

Honey Kookies, Mary’s Gone Kookies

Mary’s Gone Crackers expanded its line this year to include Kookies, graham-style, plant-based, organic and gluten-free snacking cookies. They launched at Sprouts stores and recently announced wider distribution, thanks in part to the commitment to providing consumers with a better-for-you snack that satisfies consumer cravings. 

Paleo Cookies, Jack’s Paleo Kitchen

As we mentioned, consumers are loving the “gift” aspect of baked goods this year, and a great idea is Jack’s Paleo Kitchen’s Cookie Club. All of Jack’s Paleo Cookies are sweetened with honey, so consumers don’t have to worry about making the choice between Lemon Zing, Cinnamon Raisin, Sunflower Seed Butter or Double Chocolate. The gift that keeps on giving!

Honey Whole Wheat, Inked Bread Co. 

The iconographic Queen Bee is front and center on Honey Whole Wheat’s packaging, making this honey-sweetened bread a standout on store shelves. Organic honey and organic whole cracked wheat are the star ingredients of this natural, earthy and delicious loaf.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Whiskey Cake, Great Spirits Baking Company

Fresh out of the oven, Great Spirits Baking Company is releasing its Tennessee Honey Whiskey Cake variety at the end of the summer season. Making its debut at the Summer Fancy Food Show, this honey-infused cake is perfect for adult gatherings heading out of summer barbecue season and into holidays that need an amped up dessert. It was one of our favorite finds at the show, and we’re excited to see it hit supermarkets later this year.