Boosting protein levels in loaves with the addition of pulses is helping to keep the bread market in shape, reports Tracy West

Download a pdf of this report here

Could higher protein content encourage carb-avoiding keep-fit fans to take another look at sliced bread?

Warburtons and Tesco clearly think so, with both recently launching protein-packed products. In the case of Tesco, this was in the shape of a 400g Finest loaf last month, while Warburtons unveiled an extensive Protein range in September, including a wholemeal loaf, rolls, thins and wraps.

Other attempts to woo consumers back to bread have included fortification with fibre, with Marks & Spencer announcing a year ago that it was adding fibre to its entire pre-packed bread range.

At the time of the move – claimed to be a first for a UK retailer – M&S product developer Jenny Galletly declared: “The days of the simple white loaf are numbered.”

Strong words that many British Baker readers would argue with, but there’s no doubt that consumers are being tempted by fortified and speciality breads with perceived health benefits, such as added protein, fibre or added ‘super’ seeds.

This is good news all round as such loaves can command a premium price and an increased margin for bakers.

Tasneem Backhouse, joint managing director at EHL Ingredients, believes the launch of the Warburtons protein range is a positive move for the sector.

“Protein is still receiving positive media attention and consumers are keen to experiment with new sources, flavours and foods containing added protein,” she says. “Seeds and nuts are the first port of call when it comes to adding protein to breads but now alternative enriched ingredients, such as chickpea and haricot bean protein, are becoming more mainstream.”

She adds that many consumers view protein as the staple macronutrient for losing and managing weight.

Backhouse reports that EHL has seen a surge in demand from artisan and industrial bakers for seeds in sweet and savoury breads and stocks a wide range of high-protein options such as pumpkin, chia, quinoa, sunflower, and sesame seeds.

To make the claim “source of protein” on a product, at least 12% of the energy value of the food must be provided by protein, and to claim “high protein”, it must be at least 20%.

“Seeds and pulses, which contain high levels of protein, are ideal ingredients to enable bakers to meet these claims,” says Mike Carr, sales director at ingredients supplier Edme. But he adds there can be challenges: “For example, a direct weight-by-weight replacement of wheat flour with pulse flour is unlikely to result in appetising products due to bitter compounds present in some types of beans.

“It’s vital to fully understand the ingredients and their impact on flavour and texture. That’s why Edme’s technical team is on hand to help with insights and recipe development.

Warburtons is also exploring the opportunities around pulses, and last summer announced it had joined forces with the Canadian International Grains Institute in a research initiative designed to advance the use of pulses such as yellow peas, red and green lentils, chickpeas and haricot beans.

Popular with foodies

Pulses can also benefit bakers by being popular with foodies, particularly since the United Nations named 2016 as the Year of the Pulse.

“Pulses are a godsend for bakers looking to re-build a healthy reputation for products such as bread, and chickpea flour is a particular trend that has risen into the limelight as a nutritious alternative to wheat flour,” suggests EHL’s Backhouse.

She explains chickpea flour is naturally gluten free and high in protein, containing twice as much as wheat flour. It is also high in iron and fibre. “Adding a nutty taste to bread recipes, the ingredient also binds well and creates a consistent texture, which can be a struggle in gluten-free baking,” she says.

Last summer, Genius expanded its gluten-free range with a Seeded Brown Farmhouse Loaf, featuring linseed, millet and flaxseed.

And as other bakers look to tap the ongoing interest in gluten-free food, EHL has seen an increase in orders of arrowroot powder, a gluten-free starch extracted from the roots of various tropical tuber plants in the West Indies.

Arrowroot has twice the thickening power of wheat flour, says EHL, and can be used as a gluten-free replacement for corn or wheat flour in both sweet and savoury products including bread, biscuits, puddings and cakes.

In addition to arrowroot powder, soya flour is another alternative for bakers looking to create healthier products. As well as being a low-carb ingredient, it also contains 30 to 50g of protein per cup, compared to 16g of protein per cup in wheat flour for bread. And it is gluten-free, making it perfect for healthy breads and baked goods.

Wholegrain benefits

Meanwhile, the benefits of wholegrain cereal ingredients are being rediscovered by bakers looking to create healthy, premium products, suggests Edme’s Carr.

“They have significant levels of protein, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fibre – and are hailed for their capacity to reduce blood pressure, risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity,” he adds. “The B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium and iron feature significantly.”

The NHS recommends consumption of at least 30g of fibre a day and, with the average British fibre intake at 18g a day, there is an opportunity to significantly improve this with wholegrain foods, says Edme.

According to Bakels, a good source of fibre – along with protein and amino acids – is its Multiseed Bread Concentrate that it says features among many bakers’ top-selling lines.

Mark Bennett, owner of Poole-based The Artisan Baker, introduced a range of bread products made with multiseed bread concentrate and has seen sales of the loaves grow 12% a year for the past three years.

CSM also taps demand for multigrain products with mixes including: Arkady Multiseed containing seeds, linseed, pumpkin seeds and oat kernels; Pantique Ancient Cereals with einkorn, emmer and spelt ancient grains; and Holstein that can be used as a topping or added directly to dough to make different types of multigrain breads.

Show your skills

According to chef Morgan Larsson at CSM Bakery Solutions, healthy and speciality breads give bakers an opportunity to show off their skills and expertise.

“Offering seeded breads is an easy way to stand out from competition and add a bespoke touch to the menu,” he explains. “The beauty of these breads is that various ingredients can be added depending on the tastes of your customer base – from fruit additions to various types of seeds, which are perfect for a healthier product.”

Bakels has developed a Banana Bread Mix, which requires just the addition of water, rapeseed oil and mashed bananas to produce a moist loaf described by the company as rich in potassium and vitamins. It can be sold as a whole loaf or toasted by the slice for the on-the-go market, suggests Bakels, commanding up to £1 per slice with the help of its ‘banana bread’ point of sale stickers.

With fruit already making a mark in loaves, a trend to look out for in the coming year is vegetables, suggests Larsson. He believes the inclusion of vegetables, such as carrots, courgettes, leeks and spinach, could attract those customers looking for a healthier and tasty alternative to traditional

white bread. It’s a move that has already worked in other parts of the world, with Canadian bakery Dempster’s selling pre-packed Garden Vegetable 100% Whole Grain Wheat Bread containing pumpkin and carrot.

Protein is helping health-conscious Brits take another look at bread – could pumpkin or parsnip also do the trick?

Around the world

Pulse Plus Whole Grain Loaf
Canadian product Western Family Pulse Plus Whole Grain Loaf is described as a “delicious wholegrain loaf made with the benefits of pulses”. It is said to be an excellent source of protein and a high source of fibre, containing 9g of protein  and 4g of fibre per 46g slice. It is made  with Eston lentils, black beans, navy (haricot) beans, red beans and French lentils and is a source of plant-based protein, fibre and minerals. The bread retails in a 650g pack.

Organic Protein Bread
In France, HealthyCo Organic Protein Bread is now available. The sourdough bread is rich in protein and provides 16%  of the recommended daily intake. It contains more protein and 60% fewer carbohydrates compared to regular sourdough bread, and is free from preservatives. It retails in a 250g pack bearing the EU Leaf logo.

Wheat + Protein Bread
Nature’s Own Life Wheat + Protein Bread provides 8g protein per slice. This wholegrain product is low in fat, free from cholesterol, has 0g trans fat per serving, and is free from artificial preservatives, colours or flavours and high fructose corn syrup. This product has been partially produced with genetic engineering and retails in a 20oz pack.

7 Sprouted Grains Bread
Nature’s Own Life 7 Sprouted Grains Bread contains 16g of wholegrain per slice and sprouted grains: whole wheat, sorghum, rye, millet, oats, barley and brown rice. This product is low in fat, cholesterol-free, has 0g trans fat per serving, and is free from artificial preservatives, colourings, flavourings and high fructose corn syrup. It is partially produced with genetic engineering, and retails in a 20oz pack.

Healthy bread sales performance

Healthy bread value sales

Healthy bread volume sales

Source: Kantar Worldpanel