Vaishnavi Vora, a bakery and patisserie student at University College Birmingham and one of Dawn’s student ambassadors for 2020 looks at bakery NPD over the festive season.
This year of course, Christmas celebrations may be a little different due to Covid-19, but both retailers and food manufacturers have invested a lot of money in NPD and there’s an array of exciting festive products on the shelves.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has made a significant impact on the bakery sector such as an increase in online bulk ordering for bakery items for home baking. Lockdown has also increased consumer awareness of healthy eating and experiments with new recipes that focus on clean eating, resulting in increased demand for plant-based products.
The plant-based sector was fast expanding even in pre-Covid times. According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in Britain has risen to 600,000 since 2014. It is predicted that by 2025 one-quarter of the population would be vegan/vegetarian. With each passing year, the demand for vegan food in the supermarket seems to grow, which has led supermarkets and bakeries to expand their range and develop exciting flavours and formats for the vegans to devour. This Christmas we are seeing a bigger range of vegan and plant based finished sweet bakery products in in-store bakeries, such as ginger chai cake and gluten-free orange and maple biscuits. Products have been reinvented and reformulated too, to appeal to vegan consumers with products such as vegan chocolate orange melt-in-the-middle puddings to a moreish vegan chocolate torte.
With a notable increase in healthy eating, bakers are experimenting with incorporating vegetables in Christmas bakes too. How about a root vegetable Christmas cake with candied beetroot?
The classic Christmas mince pie has also seen a creative reinvention this year as bakeries experiment with different formats of the Christmas favourite, from a mince pie gelato to a cupcake or cookie form for example. Another Christmas favourite; gingerbread, has seen a transformation by pairing it with flavours of pear and orange plus variations in designs.
The festive season indeed brings joy and togetherness in these difficult, uncertain times. Have a safe and Merry Christmas!