New research from leading ingredient provider Cargill finds consumers want both indulgence and health, and are willing to pay more for baked goods that deliver on both.  

The company’s Sweet Delight – Decoding Consumer Bakery Decisions research surveyed 1,200 US consumers to understand the unmet needs and motivations that drive consumer purchase behaviors related to cakes, pastries and cookies. The proprietary study not only looked at what consumers say they do but revealed the why behind their purchase decisions, including their expectations around textures, packaging claims, ingredients and more.

“At Cargill, we understand that consumer insights help ensure we’re bringing innovation solutions to our customers that help them keep and attract new customers in a competitive environment,” says Camiel van Beek, bakery category leader for Cargill’s global edible oil solutions group. “Across our food ingredient businesses, we’ve embraced this new way of innovating, helping our food manufacturer customers develop products that meet consumers’ unmet needs.”

The Cargill research confirms indulgence remains the most important purchase trigger for cake, pastry and cookie purchases, outweighing barriers such as weight gain, health or diet considerations. More than half (54 percent) of those surveyed said they chose bakery products to satisfy cravings, while 44 percent said they purchased them as a reward.

The study also highlighted the continuing importance of label-friendly formulation. Consumers view ingredients as most influential to their purchase decision (42 percent), over nutrition scores (39 percent) and specific product claims (28 percent).

However, consumers are certainly interested in baked goods with nutrition profiles they perceive as healthier. Health-related attributes registered as some of consumers’ biggest unmet needs, spanning desires for products that delivered portion control, balanced great taste and health, supplied energy boosts without sugar crashes and offered greater satiety, especially in the cookie and pastry space.

Cargill’s research also identified the most promising innovation platforms to meet those unfilled desires. Three top benefit/innovation platforms have emerged: Fresh from the Oven, Premium Indulgence and Better for You. In each opportunity space, significant numbers of consumers said they would accept higher prices.

“This research gives us very specific insights and will help us deliver a more focused innovation roadmap for our customers,” van Beek says. “With it, we can help customers match consumer preferences around textures, claims and ingredients by application and even daypart, then leverage our ingredient and application expertise to develop products that will resonate in the marketplace.”