So targeting consumers with gluten-free or wheat-free baked goods or reduced gluten products such as spelt could be the perfect way to drum up sales.
One bakery that has worked to meet consumers' requests is Derbyshire bakery, café and deli The Loaf, in Crich. Director Andrew Auld says that, as well as continuing its work to meet the 2012 FSA salt reduction targets, it is looking to introduce more "easy-digest" breads in the New Year. He says the bakery receives frequent requests for gluten-free breads, but due to constraints on production space, it cannot produce these. However, it is focusing on a range of breads that are easier to digest. "I have just successfully introduced a 100% spelt sourdough loaf, which is proving popular. We also have a 20% spelt sourdough loaf that contains four different seeds. This has the benefits of the spelt, as well as being high in fibre and low-GI," says Auld.
It also offers 100% rye loaves, suitable for customers avoiding wheat. He says the bakery is planning future additions to the range, which include further rye loaves, more experimentation with spelt and also an oatmeal-based loaf. The bakery also makes oat-based flapjacks and coconut and almond macaroons that can be eaten by those on a gluten-free diet. Auld says he has also made a courgette and chocolate cake with ground almond and rice flour that will be added to the menu.
The Blazing Salads Bread Company, part of the Blazing Salads Food Company, is an independent, family-run, certified organic bakery, based in Dublin. Focused on offering healthy products from its inception, its bakery range is wheat-, sugar- and yeast-free, and breads are made using slow fermentation.
Director Joe Fitzmaurice says the bakery uses ingredients such as agave syrup and apple concentrate and other fruit juice reductions to sweeten its baked goods, instead of refined sugar. The bakery has also moved over to using spelt flours. Fitzmaurice says a lot of consumers find these breads easier to digest and "doctors and health practitioners over here (in Ireland) are advising people to move over to spelt". Its top sellers are a 100% organic rye sourdough and a spelt wholemeal loaf, and Fitzmaurice says it has just introduced a white sliced loaf and multigrain loaf with linseed. Sweet treats such as Bakewell tarts, apple pies, date squares and fig and almond torte are also popular.
Rukmini Gupte of brand strategy expert the Healthy Marketing Team, reckons prevailing trends, such as health-consciousness, will return bread to its original standing and importance as a foodstuff that sustains the body and spirit. She says it is therefore important for bakeries to try and create an authentic, sensory experience that consumers identify with fresh and natural ingredients.
According to CSM United Kingdom, consumers are increasingly relying on food retailers to help them make healthy eating choices. Bread plays a significant role in consumers' healthy-eating regime, it says, with wholegrain and seeded varieties a popular choice for health-conscious consumers. David Astles, marketing manager for the firm, says: "The challenge facing bakers is to meet that demand for healthy breads, combined with their expectations for something a little different." .