Many consumers view pastries as an opportunity to truly indulge, and as such there are fewer better-for-you (BFY) varieties to be found than with other baked goods. Still, there are opportunities for bakers to debut pastries in different sizes or incorporate certain benefits that appeal to label-conscious shoppers.

Melissa Altobelli, principle, client insights, dairy and bakery vertical, Circana, noted that mini or petite pastry items are entering the perimeter, capitalizing on growing consumer demand for permissible indulgence. 

Sweetmore Bakeries, Park Ridge, Ill., says its smaller, multipack offerings are increasingly popular in part because of this trend.

“Consumers are continuing to look for flavor variety while reducing portion size, especially in the sweets category, so they can indulge while mitigating the guilt,” said Alan Jannings, general manager and chief commercial officer.

The trend toward cleaner labels is another opportunity for pastries to expand their audience. Bakeries that achieve a clean label can also market their pastries as a more premium product at a higher price point.  

“[Banquet d’Or] uses 100% natural ingredients that are sustainably sourced to ensure that consumers can fully enjoy what they’re eating without worry,” said Raoul Dexters, country commercial manager USA, Vandemoortele USA, New York.

Claims like non-GMO, organic, no additives or preservatives, and made with all-natural ingredients are established positionings within the pastry category, according to Innova Market Insights, and will likely grow. 

“Other emerging or growing positioning claims include plant-based and vegetarian, and low or no carbs, zero sugar, sugar-free and no added sugar,” Innova stated. “Keto- or paleo-friendly claims can also be found.”

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Legendary Foods, for example, last year introduced a line of BFY Protein Sweet Rolls. Available in Cinnamon, Wild Berry and Chocolate varieties, the rolls offer 20 grams of protein and between 5 and 6 grams of net carbs. The sweet rolls are an expansion of the company’s original line of protein pastries, which have attracted consumers as a BFY toaster pastry alternative.

“While pastries and sweet rolls have historically been considered a decadent ‘moment of indulgence’ treat, we know that consumers across the board are searching for better-for-you options,” said Luke Hubbard, chief commercial officer, Legendary Foods. “We’re very excited to deliver high-protein, lower sugar, healthier macronutrient options combined with the nostalgic formats that everybody loves.”

Legendary Foods’ offerings capitalize on numerous trends within the pastry category, including nostalgia, BFY and indulgence.

“As far as flavor trends, it’s nostalgia meets decadence — your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid or those massive hot cinnamon buns from the mall,” said Oliver Mindur, chief executive officer of Legendary Foods.

This article is an excerpt from the September 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Pastries, click here.