Sweet Bakery Flavor Trends 2021

2020 was a year like no other. Quarantining and social distancing led consumers to yearn for comfort and security. Comfort foods, especially sweet baked goods, are often sought after during difficult times. Traditionally, baked goods connote comfort and joy and frequently conjure fond childhood memories. It’s no surprise that 2020 was a banner year for sweet bakery flavors. According to IRI, the pastry (danishes, coffee cakes, and muffins) and doughnuts category was up 3.3%, with total sales of $5.3 billion, for the 52 weeks ending April 19, 2020. a Similarly, the growth rate of the cookie market increased by 6.6% for the 52 weeks ending September 16, 2020.b

At the same time consumers were seeking comfort, the pandemic spurred continued interest in health and wellness. Consumers wanted to ensure their immune systems were strong enough to fight off the threat of COVID-19. According to Innova’s Consumer Survey 2020, six out of ten global consumers are increasingly looking for food and beverage products that support their immune health, with one in three saying that concerns about immune health increased in 2020 over 2019.c As discussed in our Market Trends, consumers continue to demand Functional Ingredients in their food and beverage choices. Although not normally considered healthy, baked goods are joining the health and wellness trend. Bakery brands are now offering better-for-you recipes, reduced sugar formulas, natural ingredients, and bakery products fortified with nutritional benefits such as protein, giving consumers a guilt-free treat.

A variety of flavors for bakery are trending as consumers seek both comfort in sweet baked goods and healthy, better-for-you indulgences. Traditional flavors such as Butter, Cinnamon Rolls, and Vanilla are trending flavors for bakery while novel flavors like Bananas Foster and Yuzu are emerging.


The pandemic has consumers seeking sweet comfort foods to support their mental wellbeing. In April and May 2020, FMCG Gurus conducted surveys of 23,000 consumers across 18 countries. According to the data, 43% of consumers said they had become more conscious about their mental wellbeing because of COVID-19, compared to the 36% who said this a month earlier.d

Consumers’ mental wellbeing is intricately linked to what they eat. According to Mintel’s Bakery In A Post-Covid-19 World, June 2020 article:e

  • In the US, 20% of consumers are motivated to snack in order to relieve stress, peaking at 26% for younger consumers 
  • In the UK 39% of consumers have eaten comfort food to tackle stress in the last 12 months
  • In Brazil 41% of consumers agree that what they eat impacts their emotional wellbeing

In addition, according to Jonny Forsyth, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink, “Food and drink have a huge role to play in providing consumers with welcome moments of joy, especially through seasonal winter treats which break up the boredom of the day. Warm food and drink will be a comfort blanket for hibernating consumers. Nostalgic seasonal flavours and packaging will transport people back to happier times. Functionality also has a big role to play with consumers gravitating towards mood-boosting ingredients.”


Data from Mintel’s Flavour Can Recast Breakfast Bakery As Indulgent Treat, June 2020 article showed that everyday sweet bakery products tend to lean toward classic flavors. In the 12 months to May 2020, 22% of launches in cakes, pastries and sweet goods had chocolate as a component of the flavor while 4% featured strawberry, and 4% cream.f

According to Google Trends, banana bread, brownie, cheesecake, and French toast were four of the 10 most googled recipes in March 2020 when the stay-at-home orders began.g Apple pie, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, and cupcakes were four of the UK’s top 10 favorite bakes in lockdown, according to Portana.h

Trilogy Flavors offers a wide array of tried and true, classic flavors for bakery such as apple pie, brownie, cheesecake, and French toast. Request your samples here.


As consumers turn to bakery for moments of joy, they seek new, innovative flavors for bakery. With social restrictions and limited travel, consumers are looking for escapism and “intense, sweet and indulgent flavors” that hit their sweet spot. According to Mintel’s A Year Of Innovation In Cakes And Sweet Bakery, September 2020 article:i

  • As many as 37% of baked goods consumers in Canada are looking for intense flavors
  • 80% of cake consumers in Poland would like to see more innovative flavors
  • 65% of UK consumers say they’d like to see more innovative flavors in sweet bakery

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and associated economic downturn, has resulted in consumers looking for more ways to treat themselves, especially as they are spending more time at home. Innovative and exciting flavours can spur impulse purchase and can help consumers to not only satisfy cravings, but also offer emotional benefits,” says Edward Bergen, Global Food & Drink Analyst for Mintel.

Trilogy Flavors’ R&D team blends science with creativity to develop novel flavors for bakery such as Bananas Foster and Yuzu. Request your samples here.


Health-conscious consumers want sweet bakery indulgence but do not want the calories or to compromise on taste or quality. To meet consumers’ demands, brands are offering better-for-you recipes, reduced sugar formulas, natural ingredients, and bakery products fortified with nutritional benefits such as protein. According to Mintel’s Patent Insights: Innovation In Bakery Products, September, 2020 article:j

  • 27% of US consumers who eat cookies have the perception that high protein is an important feature that makes a cookie healthier
  • 39% of US consumers perceive that low in calories is an important feature that makes a cookie healthier
  • 33% of Canadian consumers agree that a “reduced sugar” health-related option is important to them when choosing baked goods
  • 23% of Canadian consumers agree that a low-fat option is important to them when choosing baked goods

“Consumers are looking for a more holistic approach to eating, in line with overall wellness. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shift toward more intuitive eating. Also known as ‘un-dieting’, intuitive eating is intended to help people break away from chronic dieting and establish healthy eating patterns. One key component of intuitive eating is an emphasis on eating nutrient-dense foods,” states Stephanie Mattucci, Mintel Associate Director, Global Food Science.


In 2021, consumers will continue to seek comfort in sweet baked goods and healthy, better-for-you indulgences. These two trends are not mutually exclusive. Regardless of the application or formula, flavors for bakery satisfy consumers’ craving for sweet bakery products. Mintel predicts that “in the next 12-18 months, as consumers cope with the reality of the ‘next normal’, bakery products that offer comfort paired with health attributes will continue to be in demand.” There will be a variety of nostalgic to novel flavor trends in 2021 and Trilogy Flavors is your go to resource for bakery flavors. Don’t see what you’re looking for? We have thousands more! Contact us.


[a] https://www.snackandbakery.com/articles/94869-state-of-the-industry-2020-consumers-indulge-in-comforting-sweet-goods

[b] https://www.fooddive.com/news/coronavirus-sweetens-cookie-and-chocolate-sales/588436/

[c] https://www.prnewswire.com/il/news-releases/innova-identifies-top-10-food-and-beverage-trends-to-accelerate-innovation-in-2021-301155638.html 

[d] https://www.candyindustry.com/articles/89235-state-of-the-confectionery-industry-better-for-you-sugar-free-entices-consumersamid-covid-19

[e] Witham, Katya. “Bakery In A Post-Covid-19 World.” 24, June 2020, Mintel

[f] Witham, Katya. “Flavour Can Recast Breakfast Bakery As Indulgent Treat.” 19, June 2020, Mintel

[g] https://www.foodandwine.com/news/most-googled-recipes-stay-home

[h] https://www.bakeryandsnacks.com/Article/2020/04/16/Bananabread-and-apple-pie-Lockdown-larder-advice-to-continue-creating-the-UK-s-Top-10-quarantine-bakes

[i] Kaczorowski, Mikolaj. “A Year Of Innovation In Cakes And Sweet Bakery.” 22, Sept. 2020, Mintel

[j] Srivastava, Neha. “Patent Insights: Innovation In Bakery Products.” 21, Sept. 2020, Mintel

Trilogy Flavors, Inc.