Sweet talk - the demand for desserts - Macphie

In an increasingly health-conscious age, it’s reassuring to know there is still a place on the menu for dessert.

Indulgence never falls from fashion and desserts are still eaten after a main meal by 42% of consumers.

But while sales by value are rising, volume sales are down. Those with a penchant for puddings are becoming more discerning which means having to work harder at hitting that sweet spot to round off a meal.

The importance of indulgence

The good news is that being indulgent helps add value to the market.

Over half of dessert buyers (56%) felt that indulgences such as chocolate and cream made a dessert worth paying more for.

High-quality ingredients are also a key selling point (49%), as well as the visual appeal of the dessert (40%). This suggests high-quality ingredients warrant a higher price, showing the value to brands of emphasising the use of the best ingredients on product packaging.

Targeting special occasions will also reap benefits, as 42% of consumers limit dessert consumption to when they have guests, and 75% agreeing that shop-bought desserts are suitable to serve to guests.​

Traditional with a twist

Rhubarb & pistachio bundt cake hits a nostalgic note

So what is it that those with a sweet tooth are looking for? Demand for traditional desserts with new flavour twists bodes well for old favourites.

Rhubarb is back as a taste for nostalgic, retro flavours heralds the return of rhubarb to seasonal menus​.

Desserts traditional to other countries represent an untapped opportunity. A third of our sweet-toothed diners (35%) are interested in trying these, showing the love of international cuisines in the UK, and potential to attract new consumers.​

Rosewater and cardamom creme brulee taps into our love of international flavours

Other dessert trends to look out for are savoury infusions. From herb and vegetable inclusions, to fruits with smoky notes, desserts are growing ever more complex and exciting. ​

Chilli infusions are a great example. While not new to desserts, we are now seeing a broader range of the chillies being used, from bird’s eye and guajillo to ancho and cascabel.

And if all that heat leaves you needing to calm down, then try a burst of floral fragrance.

Elderflower panna cotta adds a distinctive floral note to the menu

Hibiscus was declared 2019’s Flavour of the Year, joining lavender, elderflower, rose and violet on the main stage​ as another trend to watch.


An interesting footnote to the position of puddings is the continuing interest – and growth opportunities – shown by consumers in making their own at home.

Almost half of all consumers prefer to make desserts at home, rising to 56% among 16-34 year-olds.

As seen in other categories, this could present an opportunity through dessert kit solutions which remain rare, yet are of interest to 40% of dessert eaters. This also taps into consumer demand for customisation, appealing to 57% of consumers.​

Will this ever take over from our delight in ordering deliciously indulgent and professionally prepared desserts?

Well, I guess the proof is in the pudding is in the eating…

Source: Mintel | Foodspark | The British Baker