As we approach the first official day of summer, and all of the events and gatherings that come with the season (including weddings, Independence Day and barbeques), one aspect we all look forward to is the flavorful food.

According to the experts at Dawn Foods, this summer is all about “Newstalgia,” taking classic summer themes and reinventing them in new, exciting ways. Familiar formats are being reimagined for added fun. This is an especially exciting concept in the bakery world, as it gives them an unprecedented 40-year timeframe from which to mine nostalgic favorites and integrate them into specialty items.

With that in mind, the simple question for foodservice operators is, what flavors will trend in baked goods this summer, and how will they differ from previous years? Melissa Trimmer, CEPC®, AAC, Corporate Executive Chef & Senior Director of Culinary for Dawn Foods, states that citrus is big in 2024.

“We are seeing citrus flavors trending more heavily than in previous years,” she says. “Beyond the classic lemon, lime and orange, there are many exciting citrus varieties making an appearance. These include pink or white grapefruit, yuzu, Meyer lemon and different types of oranges like Cara Cara, Valencia, blood, bitter and mandarin. Other unique citrus options include Buddha’s hand, citron, finger lime and kumquat.”

Mangos appear to be trending in the stone fruit category. Yelp’s June Trend Tracker is now live, surfacing trends that saw increases in searches from May 2024 vs. May 2023 to forecast the trends of the moment. One of those is “Mango Madness,” in which restaurants are finding creative ways to serve this sweet summer fruit to make sure diners can’t get enough. Searches on the platform for “mango dessert” are up 182 percent, “mango sticky rice” up 91 percent and “mango sago” up 78 percent.

Trimmer has also noticed that upside-down cakes are evolving from the traditional pineapple to new, exciting flavors.

“Bakeries are using upside-down cakes as a seasonal staple, changing the fruit topping based on seasonality. For summer, think berries, stone fruits and citrus.”

Floral flavors are ripe for versatility occasions, driving consumer interest in restaurant menus, snacks, desserts and beverages. A recent trend report from food and beverage flavor manufacturer T. Hasegawa USA finds that lavender, in particular, is exploding in popularity, with a 254 percent increase in presence on foodservice menus, from 2020 to 2023. Caribou Coffee and Starbucks both placed a spotlight on lavender in their spring menus, featuring beverages such as the Honey Lavender Espresso Shaker and Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha, respectively.

Global influences are taking hold on menus, particularly Asian flavors and aesthetic influences in classic baked goods.

“Spice is gaining popularity in baked goods. Korean bakery concepts, such as Paris Baguette, are also on the rise,” Melissa Trimmer says. “This trend blends Asian and French influences and can be tied back to citrus flavors, like yuzu.”

Beyond flavors, Trimmer also suggests that cake decorating trends are evolving significantly. Some of the designs she sees being big this summer include:

  • Knitted and textured designs – They are becoming very popular on social media, and cake shops will want to capitalize on this trend.
  • Sugar sheet and rice paper decorations – They continue to be popular, making intricate, labor-intensive designs more accessible.
  • Lambeth/Victorian-style cakes – They have transitioned from a fleeting trend to a perennial favorite. If your shop isn't offering at least one design in this style, it’s time to start.