Consumers looked for ‘packaged treats’ during the pandemic

By Vicci Forward Application Specialist; Industrial Patisserie



As my main focus at Puratos is working in Industrial Patisserie, lockdown had 2 big effects on my work. Predominantly this was the unfortunate closure of coffee shops, but the knock on effect was not only how we migrated to home baking but also buying cakes to eat at home. Comfort food, nostalgic flavours and individual cakes. However, how we buy these is also changing. 

Packaged goods have become essential, in-store bakeries are now individually packing items that were previously unwrapped and bakers are looking at new packaging options, we explore the reasoning behind the shift.

The elephant in the room ‘Covid 19’ has created major shifts in the whole world but more specifically here I want to talk about, what we are eating? how we are eating it? and how ‘safe’ the consumer feels eating baked goods?

No consumer is affected more than the ‘hyper-sensitive’ archetype coined in the Puratos New Normal trend report. This person is very worried about their health – both mentally and physically - they are avoiding going out as much as possible and looking for the safest and most hygienic options in their lives, none more so than the food they are putting into their bodies. These behaviours have been highly accelerated during the pandemic.

I have identified 3 keys areas of this trend, discussed below. 

1). 56% consumers agree that packaged baked goods are a better guarantee for hygiene 

As lock down relaxes, social distancing will continue for a long time, people will be very cautious and nervous to get back to normal – changes that have been implemented such as social distancing and wearing face mask will be here to stay.

With 81% consumers looking for increased hygiene post Covid-19 it is clear businesses need to adapt to survive.

8 key lookouts

Hygiene is a key consideration when buying baked goods

  • More packaged and individually wrapped products
  • Handmade claims will become less appealing
  • Social distancing will continue
  • Consumers will look for more hygienically produced and stored food
  • More plant-based products
  • Focus on staff cleanliness
  • Touch free options will become more popular

2). Packaged products for extended shelf-life and product preservation

People have adapted to the ‘New normal’ planning their shopping more meticulously in advance, resulting in less frequent shopping occasions.

As a consequence, there will be some compromise on freshness. 63% people think freshness in the number one criterion for buying bread and 51% patisserie and cakes so potentially this can cause an issue.

With clever packaging and simple adaptions to process the freshness and shelf-life can be improved (see links below for some helpful hints and tips)

Consumers have relied heavily on online shopping and home delivery, especially those that have been shielding. With so many successes, these formats are set to stay and consumer expect expansion into new areas - 49% consumers agree that all stores & restaurants should be able to deliver at home and 23% of consumers have increased their online grocery spend.  

There has been an overwhelming amount of fast acting bakers who have adapted their routes to markets to keep their customers supplied. Home delivery does provide a challenge for bakers. Products must be adapted so they travel well, will be delivered in one piece and hygienically – this is where packaging really comes into its element.

3). What about those that still want sharing options?

For years people have loved sharing experiences none more so than food – tear and share breads, freshly baked pizza and slicing celebration cakes has become an ingrained part of our culture and everyday life.

With concerns over hygiene, how can we create ‘sharing products’ that are hygienic?

The answer is individual portions! I love the example of the 2 classic French favourites – the fondue vs raclette – Fondue consisting of a meal that everyone gets stuck in, dipping their bread and other crudités into a communal bowl many times over, would see people aghast at the moment! So why not go with the raclette? Individual portions of cheese to melt on your own devices – no double dipping! All the theatre and fun with much less risk. This principle can be applied to baked goods – Miniature portions, individually packed so there is as little human contact as possible and there are some great examples already in the marketplace.

In summary

Consumers are understandably cautious when it comes to food but are still looking to participate. Whilst more time consuming, and more costly, it is vital to think about packaging and hygiene options. However, there is a flip side; shelf life can be extended and there is a whole new area for adding a story to your products and consumers love a good story!

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