A time of change for sweet bakery tastes?

Sweet goods lead bakery innovation in key growth markets, but consumers may soon expect more than traditional indulgence. Our consumer survey confirms the trend towards healthier options.

Sweet baked goods are driving bakery innovation in the Middle East and Africa. In fact, some 57% of new bakery launches come from the sweet segment, with sweet biscuits and cookies taking a very strong lead. Chocolate is the preferred flavor by far.

Manufacturers will do well to target Millennials in their product development.  According to Innova Market Insights, consumers born in the 1980s and early 1990s today represent just over a third of the population in the Middle East and Africa as well as globally.

A Nutrition & Biosciences survey has captured the consumer perspective on sweet baked goods in three of the region’s growing markets: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.  The findings are very much in line with the Innova overview.

These show that cookies, biscuits, cakes and croissants regularly feature on consumer shopping lists. Many households keep convenient packaged items in stock for day-to-day consumption or for serving to guests.

A few surprises
Our senior application specialist Andy Flounders has spent a lot of time working with bakery manufacturers in Saudi Arabia and South Africa. While he nods in agreement with most of the survey findings, there are a few surprises.

“The findings from both these markets show the impact of demographic change and changing attitudes over the past few years.

“Before the survey, I would probably have said traditional high-sugar and high-fat products were still the best bet for successful market launches. But what we can see here is a growing interest in healthier sweet baked goods among certain consumer groups,” he says.

Healthier options for women
In South Africa, this points to greater opportunities than previously for sweet bakery snacks with added fiber and reduced sugar. Flounders also highlights the positive response of Saudi Arabian women to healthier options.

“This suggests there could be potential for gender-specific products,” he adds.

As in many other parts of the world, an increasing number of consumers in the Middle East and Africa are concerned about their health – and with good reason. The International Diabetes Federation predicts, for example, that the number of people with diabetes in the region will more than double from 2015 to 2040.  

New sweet bakery launches that are either sugar-free or enriched with fiber may still have a low market share in the region. But, says Innova, they are growing at a double-digit rate.

Keeping it indulgent
Flounders remarks, “Sugar reduction is a particular challenge for the sweet bakery segment, as consumers still expect an indulgent taste and texture. Bakery products in the Middle East and Africa are traditionally also very sweet.

“At Nutrition & Biosciences, we are already working on healthier sweet bakery concepts with a number of customers. In the light of the current trends, we expect to do even more work of this nature in the future.”

To learn more about the Nutrition & Biosciences sweet baked goods consumer survey, see our infographics and download our white papers.

Growth Markets

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