Our Year in Review: The Top Bakery Trends of 2021

Our Year in Review: The Top Bakery Trends of 2021 

Bakeries everywhere are gearing up for 2022, planning for a year full of success, inspiration, and business growth. It’s almost impossible to focus on next year without taking note of the trends and business drivers of 2021. Dawn Foods combed through industry and our own research to compile the top trends of this year, with a focus on how to best integrate them into business planning for the future.

Convenience Continues to be King

COVID shifted the business landscape toward convenience. From online ordering, to single serve packaging, curbside pickup, and grab and go cases, convenience became an imperative for business success, and that consumer desire for ease isn’t going away anytime soon. Throughout COVID, these news ways of doing business gave people confidence in the safety of products and processes, while allowing consumers to operate in the ways that feel comfortable to them. And even though COVID mandates have lessened, that desire for convenient shopping options remains. In fact, digital orders in Canada are up 177 percent in 2021 compared to 2019 and delivery is up 139 percent in 2021. (1)

2022 Implications

 >>>> Continue to integrate convenience services into your business plan like online ordering, delivery, curbside pick up and more.

>>>> Consider surveying customers to find out what convenience services matter most to them so you can prioritize the best investments for your bakery.

>>>> Investigate single serve or clamshell packaging that offers both easy grab and go service and product visibility

consumers crave comfort

Consumers Crave Comfort

The consumer desire for comfort has been a growing trend for the past few years, and 2021 was no exception. That need for a sweet escape, a moment of indulgence, and an acknowledgement of society’s cumulative hard work is now more important than ever. Bakeries celebrated this trend this year by featuring desserts with rich flavour profiles like dark chocolate and spices; showcasing traditional comfort favourites like pies, cakes, and donuts; and creating campaigns that evoked childhood times and memories. Understanding this trend, Dawn created our Gourmet Cupcake Program to help bakeries create easy and affordable indulges to consumers.  Using our top-quality ingredients, the Dawn team created 20 gourmet cupcake ideas that bakers can use to transform everyday cupcakes into indulgent offerings consumers want.  And for just a few extra cents, customers can also improve their bottom line. Dawn Foods sees this trend continuing into 2022 as consumers cite comfort and indulgence as the top reasons for choosing to purchase a sweet baked good​. (2)

2022 Implications

>>>> Continue to focus on features that highlight indulgence and reward

>>>> Consider creating a marketing campaign around comfort and organizing your case to deliver on that promise

>>>> Optimize your case to sell these indulgent bites at the right time of day – that afternoon break or post work indulgence

consumers crave comfort

Celebrations are Back!

After a long year (plus) of social distancing and quarantining, celebrations of all sorts are on the rise. From birthdays and anniversaries to larger parties like wedding receptions and graduations, people are feeling safer to be with friends and family. For bakers, this trend means one thing – cake! For the In Store Bakery market, Canadian cake volume is up this year nine percent over 2020. (3) 

2022 Implications

>>>> Continue to feature cakes, both the traditional favourites consumers love and new creations that push them to experiment and try something new. Dawn Foods has high performing mixes in a variety of traditional flavours such as chocolate, white, and red velvet that create unique cakes and serve as base flavours for your own custom creations.

>>>> Partner with Dawn and our Gourmet Cupcake Program to create a strategic cupcake collection that encourages customers to make every day a celebration. Small sizes mean more frequent purchases.

COVID Concerns Put a Spotlight on Health

Even though people are returning to some pre-COVID behaviors, it’s a fact that COVID has transformed how we behave and also think about our food. Foods that nourish and provide health benefits are becoming more and more in demand. And while consumers may want that moment of escape and indulgence, they are also prioritizing their physical, emotional and mental wellness.  An indulgent treat that gives that momentary escape combined with ingredients that are healthier (vegan, organic, etc.), helps your customers feel better about eating it and may encourage them to indulge a little more frequently. 

2022 Implications

>>>> Highlight healthy ingredients where possible. Adding in spices with health benefits, citrus, and other immunity boosting foods will catch consumer attention.

>>>> Consider investing in organic or vegan ingredients and mixes where possible to meet consumer demand and give your bakery another way to market what makes you unique

People Return to School and Work…Sort Of

As society accommodates the new “normal,” a key piece of that is returning to school and work. This year, more people started to leave home and get back to the routines they left abruptly in March 2020. However, 11.5 million Canadians are still working from home as of April 2020, which is 40 percent of workers, and 73 percent of them expect to continue working from home after pandemic over.(4) What does this mean? It means bakery businesses may expect an uptick in business as people get back to old habits, but that bakers also need to accommodate remote lifestyles.​

2022 Implications

>>>> Balance your offering between what customers can get in store with what you can offer via delivery or curbside.

>>>> Make digital a key priority for your growth strategy. From online ordering to consistent social media that keeps you top of mind, winning bakers will be everywhere there customers are, whether that’s in the office or a home office.

>>>> Don’t rely on corporate customers who grabbed a dozen donuts on the way to the office or stopped in for a mid-morning break. Diversify your customer targets and work on bringing in consumers who are at home or working virtually

consumers crave comfort

Labor and Supply Chain Challenges Demand our Focus

Thriving amid the labor shortage and addressing supply chain challenges were constant themes of 2021, and they will continue into 2022. Bakeries and foodservice establishments have adapted and scaled back menus to streamline their production in a limited labor market and to minimize carrying excessive inventory.  Additionally, bakers have found it necessary to get creative when their preferred ingredients or materials are not readily available. The businesses that will succeed will develop sound strategies for flexing their menus based on what is available and hiring a team that brings multiple skills to their operation.

2022 Implications

>>>> Conduct regular menu assessments to ensure you’re making the most of ingredients and products you have consistent and easy access to.

>>>> Hire employees who can do more than bake. Look for marketing backgrounds, proven customer service skills, and general business backgrounds. This way, team members can contribute in other ways beyond baking.

>>>> Create a referral program that optimizes relationships your existing employees may have. For every referral, reward the referring team member.

>>>> Be smart about your product mix. Consider integrating frozen products into your case to minimize work and control potential product shortages.

Want to learn more about the trends and insights impacting the bakery industry now and into the future? Dawn Foods has an entire library of articles dedicated to that very topic. Check it out here.


1 -NPD Group Canada/Crest Q3-2021

2 -Dawn Flavor Trends Report, 2021

3 -Nielsen FreshTrack Canada, Sept 2021

4 -Canadians Expect to Work from Home More in 2020, Research Co, April 2020 https://researchco.ca/2020/04/17/covid-19-work/