Vaishnavi Vora, a bakery and patisserie student at University College Birmingham and one of Dawn’s student ambassadors for 2020 looks at new product development in confectionery at Easter and how flavours are being reflected in sweet bakery.
Easter creates a whopping £50 million opportunity for new product development across all food categories to excite and intrigue consumers. We are seeing more re-inventions of Easter classics with ‘premiumisation’ key. In confectionery, Hotel Chocolat continues with its luxurious £80 Ostrich egg and Thornton’s is offering a £100 handcrafted egg. Likewise, Green and Black’s is focusing on the premium gifting sector to maximise luxury.
My personal favourites on the shelf this Easter are sparkling prosecco and raspberry milk chocolate, passion fruit speckled quail’s egg, or a Praline scotch egg.
NPD continues to evolve and has a new approach called Meta-NPD, which uses digital technologies to report consumer behaviour while also considering consumer choice, managing efficiency and sustainability. Trends noted this season are hyper-indulgence, ‘instagrammability’, clean claims, sustainability and free-from products. NPD teams work rigorously to deliver quality products to meet these trends by reformulation, nutrient profiling and packaging re-design, most notably this year to include reducing plastics on Easter gifts.
New product development of both high-end brands and own-label brands means this year there’s an array of vegan Easter eggs with innovative flavours. Asda offers an exclusive vegan Belgian dark chocolate egg, while Nomo provides fruit crunch egg with raisins. High end retailer Selfridges is offering Mediterranean pistachio Easter egg in addition to a Gin and Tonic lemon milk chocolate egg!
Another notable trend is the rise in the demand for dark chocolate, due to an increase in veganism, the perceived health benefits of dark chocolate along with its lower sugar content.
Many of this year’s top confectionery flavours can be incorporated into sweet bakery and new product development for such products for 2021 will already be under way. I recommend incorporating in raspberry milk chocolate into a cake with a prosecco syrup to celebrate Easter.
Popular Chocolatier William Curley experiments with unorthodox flavours of apricot and wasabi as well as Japanese black vinegar and yuzu Easter eggs. Japanese flavours are big news in bakery too so these flavours could be used to make Japanese black vinegar sesame cupcakes filled with yuzu curd or apricot and wasabi muffins for an edgy take on Easter bakery.
We are already seeing lots of innovation in retail in the hot cross bun category. M&S launched salted caramel and Bramley apple hot cross buns while the Co-op has gone the gluten-free route. Jacksons of Yorkshire has unveiled its latest innovation – a tea-infused hot cross bun. M&S is leading the trend for savoury hot cross buns too with chilli-cheese hot cross buns, ideal as burger buns.
Another Easter classic, Simnel cake, seems to have lost its appeal. Industry experts suggest replacing or enhancing the marzipan to have a rather premium version or present it in a different format like Fortnum and Mason’s Simnel biscuits.