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As 2024 draws near, trend forecasts point to plant-based eating as a cornerstone of the modern diet. While meatless meals and dairy-free alternatives have gained popularity in recent years, the bakery industry is now edging into the spotlight as the trend to watch in 2024.
This has been corroborated by the most extensive consumer research program in the chocolate, bakery and patisserie industry, Taste Tomorrow. Based on surveys from 20,000 consumers across 50 countries and AI-powered online data science, the program reveals that plant-based products in the bakery sector will have a broader audience in the coming years.
In light of this prediction, If you’re a baked goods manufacturer, you must partner with a bakery ingredients supplier that already has a foothold in the plant-based market and is primed to deliver the high-quality, flavourful components your customers will appreciate.
Until then, here’s an overview of the plant-forward trend in the bakery industry and six plant-based ingredients to add to your supplier’s list in 2024.
The Plant-Forward Movement in the Bakery Sector
The bakery industry has traditionally relied on animal-based ingredients such as butter, eggs and milk. However, with the rise of health-conscious consumers and the trend towards plant-based eating, this is quickly changing.
According to the Taste Tomorrow report by Puratos, more than half (56%) of consumers globally are interested in plant-based alternatives for sweeter bakery products. This demand is particularly prominent in the Middle East and Africa (74%), South America (70%), and numerous countries across the Asia-Pacific region (68%).
Additionally, the report goes on to say that because 52% of consumers already believe that plant-based foods taste just as good as animal-based options, baked goods manufacturers would do well to focus on creating recipes that showcase the unique flavours and textures that plants can offer rather than trying to imitate or substitute animal products.
6 Essential Plant-Based Ingredients for Baked Goods Manufacturers
The following are six plant-based ingredients to enhance the nutritional profile of your bakery, confectionery and culinary products:
1. Egg Replacers
Eggs are a key ingredient in baking. They’re typically used as a binding agent to hold the components together, but they also help baked goods rise and enrich their colour and flavour.
As a plant-based egg replacer, citrus fibres are an excellent choice for baked goods manufacturers. They enhance the texture and structure of products like cakes, cookies and muffins while providing a clean-label solution.
They also stabilise the batter to withstand intense processing steps like mixing, moulding and baking without compromising the integrity of the finished product.
2. Plant-Based Milks
Nowadays, replacing dairy milk is not as big of a challenge as it used to be. Given how many options there are — soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hazelnut milk and oat milk — finding a suitable substitute has become a matter of understanding the unique properties of each plant-based milk.
Hazelnut milk, for instance, pairs perfectly with brownies or chocolate cakes, whereas oat milk can enhance the flavours of cookie dough and pie crusts.
It’s also worth noting that different plant-based milks have varying sweetness levels. For example, oat milk has a higher sugar content (19.01 g per cup) than soy milk (9.0 g per cup).
These variations in taste and nutritional content make it essential for baked goods manufacturers to experiment with different plant-based milks to create products that cater to a broader range of consumer tastes and dietary preferences.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a staple ingredient in vegan and plant-based baking because it can effectively replace butter in most recipes.
In attempting to use vegetable oils instead of butter, some bakers tend to increase the amount of oil used to compensate for the difference in texture and consistency, which often results in a soggy final product.
However, given that coconut oil is solid at room temperature, you can easily use it instead of butter in a one-to-one ratio without worrying about altering the recipe’s overall structure.
4. Dairy-Free Chocolate
For the longest time, chocolate was off-limits for those with dairy allergies or strict vegan diets. Fortunately, with the growing demand for plant-based ingredients, suppliers now offer a variety of dairy-free options, such as chocolate made with coconut milk, almond milk or oat milk.
There’s also dark chocolate, which, by default, doesn’t contain any dairy. However, since there are varieties of dark chocolate — unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet and sweet dark — each with different cocoa content and sugar levels, you need to explore their unique tastes and textures to determine which is best for your recipe.
Aside from sugar, several other sweeteners work great for baking. Two of the more prevalent alternatives are stevia and coconut sugar.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is at least 30 times sweeter than sugar, and in some cases, it can provide up to 450 times the sweetness. One advantage of using stevia in cooking is that it doesn’t cause spikes in blood glucose levels like sugar.
And if you’re looking for a brown sugar alternative with a similar colour tone, coconut sugar is a fantastic option. Just remember to blend it before using it in your recipes.
6. Flour Alternatives
The aptly named all-purpose flour is the go-to wheat flour for most baked goods. There aren’t any non-plant-based ingredients in it; however, for customers with gluten intolerances and dietary restrictions, wheat flour won’t suffice.
As a baked goods manufacturer, diversifying your flour stock with options like tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch), almond flour, coconut flour and oat flour will help you appeal to a wider range of consumers.
Additionally, if your niche is organic bakery products, confirm with your suppliers that they carry organic versions of these flour alternatives.
Creating Delicious Plant-Based Baked Goods
Incorporating plant-based solutions into your baked goods will open up a new and growing market and push your skillset to explore unique flavours, textures and techniques.
Start experimenting with different plants and their derivatives to elevate your products and delight your customers, who are constantly looking for healthier, more sustainable and delicious options.