Cake Trends & Baking Industry Forecast

Jan 15 2020 0 Comments Tags: bakery, Baking Business, business, Cake Business, cakes, cupcakes, Sugarverse, Wedding Cake trends

Discover cake and baking industry trends and forecast for 2020.
The ball has dropped on 2019, and we’re officially in a new decade! I refuse to sum up a decade’s worth of cake trends in one article, but let’s just say that buttercream is still a classic and society has officially driven Unicorns & Baby Sharks into the ground. 

Two shining star trends emerged in the last year of the 20-teens; the sprinkle drip cake and the fault line cake. Both trends are gorgeously creative in their own rights, and I feel like they may become staples for a few more months if not the entire year of 2020. Looking for cake inspiration? Follow us on Pinterest.

With 2019 behind us, let’s set our sights to “The Year of Our Cakes 2020.”

Cocoa will be the NEW Vanilla, You’ve been warned!

Remember a few years ago when the price of vanilla went up like ten fold? Yeah, so expect something similar to happen with cocoa and other chocolate related products by the end of this year.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “the West African nations of the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which combined produce more than 60% of the worlds’ cocoa,” are teaming up to create their own chocolate cartel with the purpose of increasing the wages of local cocoa farmers.

The new cocoa cartel “imposed a fixed ‘living income differential’ of $400 a ton in July 2019 on all cocoa sales for the 2020/21 season.” You may have already noticed a slight price increase to Hershey products last summer, and I’m sure you’ll start seeing it even more with other major companies such as Barry Callebaut and Nestle who will also be impacted by the “living income differential.”

 The price of chocolate will increase in 2020 because of the collaboration of two African nations to create a cocoa cartel.

The silver lining to this news is that most of the big guys are in support of this price increase because the farmers should be getting paid for their work just like everyone else. In an interview, Hershey spokesman Jeff Beckman, said “Cocoa farmers should be able to support their families and earn a decent standard of living, and we support the goal of raising farmer incomes.” In addition, Joseph Gerbino of Mars is of the belief that the income boost for local farmers will help to ensure that “cocoa is grown sustainably [which] is key to a thriving cocoa sector.”

What does this mean for you and your sweet business?

If you haven’t already put two and two together, these companies are not about to eat this cost and reduce their profits. No, they are going to pass it on to us, their customers. So, you know who we should be passing on this extra cost to? You guessed it…our customers.

As I said in the beginning, this is your warning bell. The price of chocolate is going to increase this year. We have been given advance notice, and the big companies have already announced their plans to pass on that cost to their customers. So, make sure you act accordingly and either (1) increase the prices of your impacted products or (2) find some alternatives when possible.

Gluten Free & Vegan options will become unavoidable.

If you haven’t started getting requests for specialty items such as Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian or Keto products, expect 2020 to be your year for those requests. The writing is on the wall, peeps!! When companies like McDonald’s and Burger King start launching faux meat products, Domino's offering gluten free pizza crust, and Betty Crocker providing a gluten free line of mixes, it’s pretty much a done deal.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to change your entire business model. This is just my friendly heads up that “times, they are a changing,” and 2020 feels like the year that we should open our minds just a bit.

In the least, my recommendation is that you begin to browse the internet for gluten free or vegan options and maybe even test them out in your down time. Then, you’ll be ready if someone approaches you about your gluten free or vegan options.

My other recommendation is that you not focus on converting your entire menu. I think at this stage in the game, it is pretty sufficient to offer a vanilla and/or a chocolate option that meet(s) those dietary specifications. Unless you just want to become know for vegan cupcakes, it might not be worth your time to come up with 15-20 vegan recipes at this point.

Also, as I mentioned last month, don’t forget that these types of items are specialty items and the price should reflect such. For the love of sugar, don’t go selling vegan or gluten free items at the same price as your standard menu items. That is a big no, no!!

If you need help building your pricing confidence, check out this free "Pricing Confidence" training on the Sugar Coin Academy website.

Finally, for those who are not opposed to baking from a box, keep in mind that some of your favorite brands may already have gluten free and/or vegan options. So, as I said, do your research and come up with a solution that best fits your business.

Sprinkles are expensive. Make a little go a long way.

This one is less of a cake trend prediction and more of a sarcastic “news flash.” The gourmet sprinkle trend is not going away any time soon. I definitely recommend that you figure out ways to lower your cost when it comes to producing menu items that include sprinkles.

One option is to connect with a quality vendor and start buying in bulk or wholesale. Another option is to come up with some designs that make a little go a long way.

In my latest article in American Cake Decorating magazine, I used the “reverse sprinkle drip cake” as an example of how to save time when the customer wants one of those time consuming sprinkle drip cakes. However, the issue with a “reverse sprinkle drip cake” is that, although it may save on decorating time, it requires a lot of little nonpareils to cover an entire cake. Therefore, if you can’t find nonpareils "for the cheap", I recommend using them sparingly and actually “sprinkle your sprinkles.” LOL!

Instead of covering the entire cake, maybe just have a sprinkle boarder around the bottom and then a few sprinkles on top? You can definitely get creative. My only requirement is that you make sure the design makes sense and cents for your business.

2019 Predictions vs Actuals

If you remember back at the beginning of last year, I predicted that woodland creatures would be a thing for 2019. I said “that it will be the year of the Llama, Fox or some other adorable Woodland Creature. However, it could likely be some spinoff of the Unicorn or maybe even something completely off the wall like a pattern. Remember when chevron was EVERYWHERE!?!? I guess only time will tell what 2019 will bring.”

All things considered, although I did see quite a few more llamas and fox cakes, they definitely failed to overtake the unicorn trend which appears to be here for the long haul. So, I’m giving my 2019 prediction an arbitrary B- because my “it could be a pattern” comment at the very end of the prediction. Since cakes with perfectly placed sprinkles became a legit thing in 2019, I’m claiming that as a pattern and therefore in line with my predictions for the cake trends of 2019. LOL! #fightMeOnIt

What was your favorite cake trend of the year? Let’s chat in the comments below.

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Cydni Mitchell is the owner of Sweet Fest the company that helps bakers and sweet business owners in their sweets businesses.


About the Author

Cydni N. Mitchell (aka Cyd) is the bakery and Sweet Business Coach behind Sweet Fest®. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sweet Fest® is an online company that supports the business needs of the Sweet Community in the areas of professional development, marketing and branding. By trade, Cyd is an accountant & financial analyst with a Masters from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also the organizer of The Ultimate Sugar Show, a baking and sweets trade show in Atlanta, GA, and she is the Co-Founder of the Sugar Coin Academy, an online business academy for business owners in the baking and sweets industry. Learn more.


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