Health and wellbeing have been huge trends in the UK bakery market for the past few years. And it seems that the rest of Europe is not far behind, as messages of heart health, digestive health and general wellbeing resonated through the busy Food Ingredients Europe exhibition halls in London’s ExCeL last week.

"We have found it very difficult to compete in the UK bakery market because Britain is two years ahead of the rest of Europe in terms of healthy, natural ingredients," says Anne Lionnet of Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients. The French-based company produces a range of bread improvers, premixes, and pre-packed breads. Lionnet says that one of the company’s more unique products is a bread premix - Limagrain’s Dafa Essentiel 40%, which contains quinoa seeds, stabilised germ maize and wheat flour, yellow linseed, oat fibres, leaven and toasted soya grits.

perfect balance

"Quinoa seed is high in iron, calcium, protein, vitamins and is cultivated in the South American Andes. It is a very healthy product, which can ultimately command high prices. It has almost a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development," says Lionnet.

Premier Foods’ ingredients specialist Holgran shared a stand with its new Italian-based ingredients partner Millbo, showcasing its new Health-Wize range of low-salt, healthy bread concentrates. The range includes Oats for You for lowering cholesterol, Holheart containing Omega 3, prebiotic Natural Balance, Seeded Heaven, Soya and Linseed for women, and Hiya Fiba for a good source of fibre.

Jonathan Rainger, national account manager of Holgran, says the company has worked with the Joint Health Claims Initiative, a government body, so that bakers can legally make the relevant health claim for each of the products.

Beijing Gingko Group showcased its Ginnovay brand - nutritional plant extracts that can be added to food and bakery products. Some of these include ’super foods’ such as bilberry, cili, goji, pomegranate, blackcurrant, seaweed and soybean.

The latest in the Ginnovay portfolio is LingonPhenol, a lingonberry extract, otherwise known as cowberries. These contain vitamin C, provitamin A (as beta carotene), B vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and phytochemicals that are thought to counteract urinary-tract infections. Its seeds are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and it is high in antioxidants.

"The UK is well ahead of the rest of Europe in experimenting with novel fruit extracts," says Dr Wilfred Blum at Beijing Gingko Group. "Bakers are well aware that they can add value to products, as consumers worldwide are wanting to know more about natural health benefits from such fruits."

plant extracts

Omega Ingredients, also specialising in plant extracts, showed off a wide range of natural flavours. Its latest development is natural, organic vanilla from Madagascar. "Most manufacturers use a synthetic vanilla called vanillian," says MD Steven Pearce. "But natural vanilla is now a tenth of the price it was five years ago. It has never been so cheap and consumers today want premium products that have provenance."

Other extracts that the company produces for natural flavourings include cocoa, blackcurrant, cinnamon, jasmine, eucalyptus and spearmint.

Südzucker, sugar producer and a leading German food group, unveiled its new Functional Food Group, BENEO, uniting ingredients companies Orafti, Palatinit and Remy, which are to be known individually as BENEO-Orafti, BENEO-Remy and BENEO-Palatinit.

For confectionery and bakery applications, BENEO-Palatinit highlighted the benefits of its "healthier sugar beet replacement", called Isomalt. It has half as many calories, is tooth-friendly, is suitable for diabetics and has a low Gi rating of two, says the firm.

enriching experience

Tate & Lyle was also at the show, promoting its Chocolate Chip Cookie Enrich with Promitor dietary fibre. "Our research shows that although most people believe fibre is good for them, they also believe that it tastes bad," says Joni Simms, research and development manager. "This is why eating cookies can be a great way to add extra fibre into the diet."

Simms adds that Promitor Resistant Starch offers bakers the opportunity to add extra fibre into baked products such as bread, biscuits and crackers.

A similar product made by National Starch, called Hi-maize, which can also be added to bread, was prepared in a pasta dish by celebrity TV chef Michael Caines, who was giving live cookery demonstrations throughout the day. He told British Baker that it was reassuring to see health was the main focus of the 2007 Food Ingredients Europe exhibition. n