MUMBAI, India – New research from Mintel shows that Indian consumers are yearning for a heightened level of flavour adventure from sweet bakery products, with 70% of consumers agreeing that the usual offerings in the category are becoming boring. Compared to more mature sweet bakery markets, flavour innovations in India remain limited.
For example, between December 2019 to November 2022, the number of individual flavours in sweet bakery launches in the UK was more than fivefold compared to India during the same period, according to Mintel Global New Products Database.
India’s launch activity in the category continues to focus on classic favourites like chocolate and vanilla. These two flavours also continue to dominate the category with chocolate accounting for 32% of the total launches and vanilla contributing 14% between January 2022 to December 2022.
On a broader scale across the Asia-Pacific region, pistachio has witnessed an exponential rise as a flavour in the sweet bakery category, with a staggering growth of 1200% over the last three years through December 2022.
Furthermore, 79% of Indians agree that introducing novel flavours motivates them to consume sweet bakery products. About one-third of consumers have expressed interest in more innovative sweet bakery products, particularly those featuring seasonal flavours (32%) and flavour combinations (30%).
Seasonal flavours: A growing interest
In particular, India is lagging in seasonal sweet bakery product innovation as only 4% of all new sweet bakery product launches in India, between September 2021-22, were seasonal. In comparison, 16% of all new sweet bakery product launches globally were seasonal in the same time period. Seasonal flavours have become a top interest in the sweet bakery category among Younger Millennials aged 26-32, with 38% (compared to 32% of consumers overall) looking forward to more flavourful seasonal innovations.
Anamika Banerji PhD, Food and Drink Analyst, Mintel Reports India, said, “Introducing product innovation that features seasonal flavours can be a good route to spark new interest and attract more consumers. The vast variety of seasonal fruits (eg jamun, mango) and sweet goods (eg carrot halwa) prepared during different seasons and festivals throughout the year can serve as flavour inspirations for packaged sweet bakery products.”
Ready-to-bake products attract young Indians
Ready-to-bake mixes offering consumer involvement and flexibility, while simplifying the baking process, have gained popularity among young Indians aged 18-34. This is particularly true for students and metropolitan dwellers, with 31% and 32% respectively, expressing a desire for this format.
For consumers interested in “ready-to-bake at home” sweet bakery products, freshness is a key value. Over three-fourths (79%) of these consumers agree that it is worth paying more for packaged sweet bakery products that ensure freshness. According to Banerji, the focus on freshness could be what’s motivating them towards the ready-to-bake format, which offers the experience of eating freshly baked treats.
Additionally, nearly four in five (78%) consumers who seek ready-to-bake products find it inconvenient to source all the ingredients needed for a recipe. Mintel research indicates that this cohort finds the premix/DIY kit format a suitable solution as it offers convenience and assures freshness.
Better-for-you sweet bakery: An emerging opportunity
Sweet bakery is seen as an indulgence-led category, with 77% of Indians agreeing that such products lift their mood. However, there is a rising demand for healthier alternatives; made with whole wheat flour (33%), all-natural ingredients (32%), and rich in nuts (31%) are the most important factors for consumers choosing a healthy, sweet bakery product. Consumers, especially those in metropolitan and Tier 1 cities, are increasingly looking for healthier sweet bakery products than what’s currently available in the market (24% and 27%, respectively).
“Better-for-you versions that reduce or take away the guilt while maintaining the taste and fun element will offer permissibility. This presents a promising opportunity for the sweet bakery sector in India to innovate and cater to evolving consumer needs,” Banerji concluded.