Bakery, pastry, and chocolate innovation took center stage at the application-packed Taste Tomorrow event by Puratos on Sept. 19-20 in Austin, Texas, where crave-worthy products like plant-based croissants provided inspiration and happiness for all. The Marketplace, created by Puratos, enabled attendees to sample decadent sweet goods, breads, and chocolate, featuring recipes that have health and wellbeing, innovation, and sustainability at their core.

“Everyone is willing to try plant-based. (The plant-based croissant) is one of my personal favorites,” said Braden Cadenelli, senior manager, National Innovation Centers for Puratos. “But how do you translate trends into product applications. We provide recipes and product ideas to our application team, which creates solutions for our industrial baking and artisanal baking customers across the world.”

Puratos operates in 100 countries worldwide and brings tremendous scale to global – and local – trends.

“One of the strategic opportunities we have is to actually take concepts from around the world and elevate them and innovate product applications,” points out Andrew Brimacombe, president, Puratos USA.

Taste Tomorrow speakers covered the vitally important topics of culinary innovation, sustainability, health and well-being, and technological innovation. During this inspirational two-day event, participants were able to discover and experience the future of consumer trends in bakery, sweet goods, and chocolate:

Fresh insights from Puratos worldwide consumer survey showcases what consumers really want in bakery, pastry and chocolate – and from across the globe.

“Our purpose is to move the planet forward,” noted Puratos chief executive officer Pierre Tossut, pointing to a list of goals including their drive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. “We really want to leave the planet better off.”

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Another key project involves education. Puratos USA and Pennsauken High School in New Jersey have entered their second school year at the Puratos Bakery School, which creates new opportunities for local youth to build valuable professional skills that can lead to meaningful careers in the baking industry.

Puratos has opened bakery schools for underprivileged communities in nine countries in 2022. Led by the Puratos Bakery School Foundation, the initiative began with the dual observation of an important community of underprivileged youngsters with little to no professional education and the fact that the bakery, patisserie, and chocolate sector is growing and lacks well trained and qualified labor.

“This is all about helping our customers win,” noted Paul Bakus, president North America for Puratos, who followed with a rousing speech about the state of the North American bakery industry, saying that “our best years are ahead of us. We are focused on the consumers. That is fundamental.”

Earlier this year, Puratos acquired Canadian chocolate producer Foley’s Chocolates. Puratos said the transaction increases its chocolate market share and manufacturing abilities in the United States and continues its growth in the pillars of health and well-being, sustainability and innovation. Puratos also now has the largest chocolate portfolio yet, which consists of plant-based, protein-enhanced, sugar free and sugar-reduced solutions.

“We are very committed to doing good for communities and having a positive impact on the environment,” Bakus said.

Art imitates life

Valuable insights brought by a range of keynote speakers during Taste Tomorrow delivered a global perspective of the food industry today and where it may be headed tomorrow.

Food Network star and Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli shed light into her background as an international chef, discussing how consumer trends impact her own work. Then she participated in a candid conversation with Jaina Wald, vice president of marketing for Puratos US and event emcee, about her work and the importance of innovation plays.

Guarnaschelli grew up as part of an Italian family in mid-town Manhattan, New York. The culinary scene was an integral part of her daily life, as her father was “stir-frying Sichuan and Cantonese dishes, and my mom was watching Julia Child. My mom was a cookbook editor. I’m Italian but we ate a lot of French food.”

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The Iron Chef star gained prominence on the global culinary scene with her imaginative cooking style. In New York City, she has run her restaurant, Butter, for 22 years, specializing in greenmarket offerings to create seasonal menus.

“If you can get people to sign on, the world is your oyster,” she says. “Don’t lose touch with the humanity of food. I observe changes, and the supermarket is the playground for adults. It’s a window to what people want to eat.”

We live in an era where people are making dietary concessions. But Guarnaschelli cautions food professionals to not lose sight of what is really good to eat.

“The bottom line is delicious always wins the race,” she says. “And social media is huge because today the visual aspect of food is everything. Tell your story. What do we do. This can be fun, too.”

She also raises important points about where culinary trends are today and cautions to not go too far.

“Have a little section for the classics, and leave them alone,” Guarnaschelli says. “Be a student of the craft – forever, hopefully. Do the work. Cook something over and over” until you and your customers are satisfied.

Consumer wish lists

Attendees gained valuable insights from a deep dive into the trends uncovered by the international Taste Tomorrow survey. Trends were presented by Rollo McIntyre, global head of innovation at Ipsos. The first trend block focused on innovation. After learning more about what consumers want, attendees learned firsthand how Puratos experts bring those trends to life. 

“The elote is at the heart of street food in Mexico, and the key to this creation is using delicate chocolate with premium taste and flavor,” McIntyre noted. “The chocolate with cumin, chipotle and lime juice provide a zesty kick.’

Sustainability is a growing area of concern for most consumers. Learn what they are looking for and how your business can deliver on expectations. Afterwards, see firsthand how Puratos experts produce sustainable creations, without compromising on flavor and texture. 

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“Food culture has become a coping mechanism for our unmet needs,” said speaker Eve Turow-Paul, founder and executive Director of the Food for Climate League, who presented insightful ways to promote climate smart food decisions.

She is a globally recognized thought leader on youth food culture, well-being, and sustainability. Her non-profit organization supports groundbreaking research around food and climate issues. She connected the dots between the sustainability trends and the “why” behind them.

“We are facing a shared crisis,” Turow-Paul said, “and the answer is to explore and get creative.”

Tech-inspired revolution

Using cutting-edge data science and AI to transform raw data into actionable insights, Puratos identified the latest industry and consumer trends: the “tech-inspired” revolution, “classics continued” and “fusion flavors,” “gut feeling,” and “plant forward.”

“By monitoring emerging trend signals and predicting their growth trajectories, we are able to gain insight into the future of our industry,” said Jaina Wald, vice president marketing, Puratos USA. “Our goal is to remain at the forefront of innovation and ensure that our partners and clients stay ahead of the curve. By understanding consumer needs, motivations, moments and narratives, Puratos delivers a holistic understanding of the current landscape and envisions the future of food.”

Trends that will shape the future of bakery, patisserie and chocolate in North America include the following:

The “Tech-Inspired” Revolution: Embracing Innovation and Craftsmanship

North America’s food landscape is undergoing an astonishing transformation through the “tech-inspired” revolution. The region’s fastest-growing trend, captivating both consumers and professionals seeking to harmonize traditional craftmanship and cutting-edge technology is manifesting in the use of AI-powered generation and 3D printing.

"By fusing technology and culinary craftsmanship, we're pushing creative boundaries and entering a new era of recipe personalization with tools like ChatGPT and text-to-image generators,” said Wald. “Technologies like 3D printing bring culinary visions to life, fostering unparalleled experimentation and elevating the entire industry."

In addition to AI technologies influencing recipe generation, one in three consumers believe that AI will help them make better food choices.

“Classics Continued” and “Fusion Flavors”

Puratos research found that more than half (69%) of the North American consumers polled are looking for nostalgic, familiar culinary experiences. Another 64% of respondents are interested in experimenting with food presented in new ways.

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The Puratos’ Deli fillings are a great example of this trend. Each filling is crafted with traditional ingredients, making it easy for bakers to incorporate the authentic flavor and texture of nostalgic desserts like lemon pie or cheesecake into their baked goods.

 “This distinctive duality of desiring classic comforts as well as the thrill of the unexplored presents an exciting opportunity for industry professionals to leverage the power of classics while reinventing finished goods to encourage exploration and discovery,” said Wald.

The “Gut Feeling” Trend

A substantial 76% of North American consumers recognize the essential role of improving gut health for overall health – from a boost in immunity to enhanced mental well-being. In fact, 66% express interest in food products designed to enhance and enrich gut health.

“This striking interest in gut health among North American consumers is translating into a demand for multipurpose gut-friendly foods that offer holistic health benefits and enhanced energy,” said Wald.

This increased focus on gut health has prompted a surge in demand for bakery, sweet goods, and chocolate products infused with probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber. Eighty-four percent of North American consumers acknowledge the positive effect of fiber on digestion.

Sourdough emerges as an unwavering symbol of this trend, holding its position as one of the most popular goods in this category among consumers. Sourdough fermented bread stands out for its superior digestibility, a result of its extended fermentation process. This slow fermentation unlocks an array of advantages: increased release of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, contributing to an overall enhanced nutritional content.

Gut health is important to a growing number of people, but taste is important too. Puratos’ 100% whole wheat organic sourdough, Sapore Lore, offers a combination of elevated taste and the benefits of a fermented sourdough.

Plant Forward: Cultivating a Greener Indulgence

The "plant forward" movement emerges as a prominent and compelling subject of online discussions in North America, underscoring a transformative evolution in people's dietary preferences. In this era of heightened consciousness, consumers have become acutely aware of the profound ripple effect their food choices can create on the environment. The surge of interest in plant-based options echoes this growing realization, with nearly half (44%) of individuals perceiving plant-based foods as a natural choice. 

In North America, 53% of consumers recognize the positive impact that pant-based choices have on the environment. Another 46% believe plant-based offerings both cater to their well-being and are a healthier choice than animal-based products.

As this trend of conscious consumption continues to evolve, consumers are setting high standards for the quality and taste of plant-based products. The success of plant-based is evidenced by the booming sales of Puratos’ Sunset Glaze, a plant-based egg wash alternative that adds a premium, golden shine to buns, brioche and other baked goods. Plant-based milk chocolate has also been popular among Puratos customers, as evidenced by sales of the Belcolade Selection M. Plant-Based Cacao-Trace.

“Our proprietary Taste Tomorrow research program offers unparalleled insight into the ever-evolving food industry,” said Wald. “By providing a deep understanding of consumers’ changing needs and desire, we empower businesses to stay ahead of the game and create products that truly resonate with their customers. In a world where innovation is key, Taste Tomorrow is the ultimate tool for success.”