Sweet goods lead bakery innovation in key growth markets, but consumers may soon expect more than traditional indulgence, according to a new survey.

But alongside the love of sweetness there is a growing trend towards healthy options, according to the DuPont Nutrition & Health sweet baked goods consumer survey

Sweet baked goods are driving bakery innovation in the Middle East and Africa. In fact, some 57 per cent of new bakery launches come from the sweet segment, with sweet biscuits and cookies taking avery strong lead. Chocolate is the preferred flavour by far.

It concludes that manufacturers will do well to targetMillennials in their product development. According to Innova Market Insights, consumers born in the 1980s and early 1990s today represent just over a third of the population in the MiddleEast and Africa as well as globally.

A DuPont Nutrition & Health surveyhas captured the consumer perspective on sweet baked goods in three of the region’s growing markets: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. The findings are very much in line with the Innova overview.

These show that cookies, biscuits, cakes and croissants regularly feature on consumer shopping lists. Many households keep convenient packaged items in stock for day-to-day consumption or forserving to guests.

Du Pont's senior application specialist AndyFlounders has spent a lot of time working with bakery manufacturers in SaudiArabia and South Africa. He agrees with most of the survey findings but emphasised the growing importance of healthy options.

Flounders said: “The findings from both these markets show the impact of demographic change and changing attitudes over the past few years.

“Before the survey, I would probably have said traditional high-sugar and high-fat products were still the best bet for successful market launches. But what we can see here is a growing interest in healthier sweet baked goods among certain consumer groups,” he says.

In South Africa, this points to greater opportunities than previously for sweet bakery snacks with added fibre and reduced sugar. Flounders also highlights the positive response of Saudi Arabian women to healthier options.

“This suggests there could be potential for gender-specific products,” he adds.

As in many other parts of the world, an increasing number of consumers in the Middle East and Africa are concerned about their health – and with good reason. The International DiabetesFederation predicts, for example, that the number of people with diabetes in the region will more than double from 2015 to 2040.

New sweet bakery launches that are either sugar-free or enriched with fibre may still have a low market share inthe region. But, the Innova survey highlighted that they are growing at a double-digit rate.

“Sugar reduction is a particular challenge for the sweet bakery segment, as consumers still expect an indulgent taste and texture," said Flounders. "Bakery products in the Middle East and Africa are traditionally also very sweet.

“At DuPont, we are already working on healthier sweet bakery concepts with a number of customers. In the light of the current trends, we expect to do even more work of this nature in the future.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about the DuPont Nutrition & Health sweet baked goods consumer survey, see our infographics and download our white papers.