How are ingredients producers balancing consumers’ demands for ‘chemical-free’ baked goods with the need for improvers and mixes offering functionality, health and great taste?

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With ‘clean-eating’ bloggers attracting huge followings and gluten and sugar still in the dock, ingredients suppliers are having to perform a tricky balancing act when it comes to food science.

Consumers are demanding not only clean label – an amorphous concept including sustainability, provenance, back-to-nature foods, non-GMO and fewer ingredients – but also functional or nutraceutical options with benefits such as lowering cholesterol and increasing protein and vitamin intake.

To complicate matters further, retailers require practical functionality too – most importantly longer shelf life to reduce wastage. That’s not to mention lower prices, lower fat, lower salt and lower sugar – lower everything except flavour, in fact. So how are ingredients suppliers adapting ranges to address these often contradictory demands for all-singing, all-dancing foods?

CSM Bakery Solutions is converting the list of ingredients it works with to clean label ahead of customer demand, says product manager David Astles.

“There are two contradicting factors driving the area of clean label: consumer expectations as they still want to purchase their regular bread products with no changes to the taste or consistency; and the desire for cleaner-label products,” he says.

Lower salt content

Sourdough has helped CSM solve the issue of lower salt content.

“With certain bread and roll mixes we have been able to enhance the flavour profile with the addition of natural sourdoughs, thus offsetting the main problem when salt is reduced, the flavour is taken away.” 

The development of clean label has been a gradual evolution, he says, with the reduction of sodium and sugar and artificial additives combined with the use of enzymes – and a focus on maintaining the performance and eating profile.

“There will always be demand for traditionally formulated products,” says Astles. “However, we are driving forward the clean-label sector on all products, such as the removal of hydro fats and artificial colours.”

Astles adds that he expects clean label to become the norm over the next five years.

Natural flavours and colours have never been more important, says Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland for Dawn Foods.

“As part of our Project Sunrise programme, Dawn has been moving many of its products, category by category, to include natural flavours and colours and introducing cleaner ingredient lists,” she tells British Baker.

Synthesised emulsifiers

Surrey-based ingredients producer Thew Arnott, which works with food manufacturers reformulating recipes to avoid allergens such as soya, gluten and egg, is responding to changing technical and nutritional challenges. The company says lecithins and palm-free synthesised emulsifiers are proving of particular interest to the baking industry. Its products include Fibersym RW – a resistant wheat starch acting as a prebiotic that can reduce the calorific value of foods while providing dietary fibre; and wheat protein isolate, Arise 5000, which reduces fat absorption and increases moisture retention in doughnut formulations.

With consumer clamour around nutrition giving impetus for change, and no let-up in customer demands for functionality, it’s clear that ingredient innovators are going to be kept busy.

Carrs Foods’ Baker Street brand

Carrs Foods has relaunched its Baker Street range of breads, cakes and morning goods that offer no less than 35 days’ life (and often more).

Developed for the wholesale and convenience markets and first launched in 2002, it has recently been given a new look to make the products easier to differentiate and ensure they stand out against ‘non-branded’ competitor convenience market products.

Carrs Foods MD Jeremy Gilboy says that with consumer habits changing to more frequent shopping and smaller basket sizes, demand for Baker Street has grown steadily.

Carrs is extending the range this year with a Seeded Rye sliced loaf, featuring linseeds, sunflower, barley & oats; and a Rye and Wheat sliced loaf.

UK investment

Businesses including Puratos – which claims to have developed the first-ever bread improver in 1953 – have been ramping up investment in the UK to meet the changing demands of bakers.

Last autumn, Puratos opened a £1.27m Industrial Bakery Competence Centre (IBCC)  at the company’s Fringford Mill site near Bicester, Oxfordshire. The new centre will focus on the research of bakery industrial processes, development of industrial applications and training of new and existing customers, the company said.

“This is an important step in our ongoing commitment to invest in our customers’ success, as well as in achieving our ambitious aspirations to double our market share in the next five years,” stated Puratos UK managing director Julian Lewis when he opened the centre last September.

Meanwhile, flavourings and ingredients developer TasteTech has opened a bakery laboratory at its Bristol HQ.

The business, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is a specialist manufacturer of controlled release flavourings and ingredients for applications including bakery, confectionery, chewing gum and sports nutrition.

The new facility, opened this year, is designed to enable its team of bakery technologists to assist customers in getting the best out of their products. It also gives businesses the facilities to develop new products and help solve some of the technical challenges faced by the bakery market.

Elsewhere, UK baking mix supplier LFI Tollblend was acquired by French yeast and fermentation supplier Lesaffre, which said it was pursuing growth in the bakery ingredients market in Western Europe.  It also acquired Spanish firm Tecno Bakery, which specialises in the production of enzyme-based improvers and correctors for flour milling.

Worcester-based LFI Tollblend makes ingredient mixes for the baking and processed foods sectors and has a large gluten-free production capability. Lesaffre already operates DCL Yeast and Fermex in the UK.