Few people would deny that bread has an uphill battle to get carb-conscious loaf-dodgers to steer their trolley back down the bakery aisle. But one way to get people literally running into their local bakery would be to take note of what German bakers are up to. That is because one speciality mix has resulted in a "jogging bread" hitting the market, aimed at sporty types.

DuoMalt a blend of malt flours and dry malt extracts from supplier Edme is being used in a bread that is targeted at athletic consumers over there. "It goes into a bread that is targeted at joggers. It has a higher level of long chain sugars," explains James Smith, sales director at malted ingredients supplier Edme. "It’s a low-Gi concept, so it has slower digestible energy. We’ve thought about doing more of it in the UK, because the sports market shies away from bread products due to the claim they make you bloated. You can produce a relatively low-sugar, high-fibre bread suitable for sportspeople."

What’s more, DuoMalt Dark can replace up to 25% cocoa in a dry mix whether that is a bread-style product or a muffin. It is claimed to cost about half the current price of cocoa powders per tonne in the UK, which presents an attractive saving.

The main area of NPD in bread mixes continues to be along the healthy eating angle. One segment that is seeing increased activity is mixes that take advantage of the beta glucan content of oats. Using oaty ingredients that are rich in beta glucan opens up the possibility for bakery producers to market products with an EFSA-approved claim for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. "We’ve seen quite a growth in oat products malted oats, oat flakes and kibbled products going into bread, not only because of the health benefits of higher beta glucan, but also because of the appeal of wheat-free diets," says Smith.

Another mix on the market that is making big play of its beta glucan levels is Sustagrain wholegrain barley flour from National Starch Innovation. "We are promoting this one based on its high beta glucan content," says technical development manager Juliette Maliska. "It has very high beta glucan around 12%, which is about three times more than oats, which has 4-5% beta glucan. This density of beta glucan is really important, because you need to have enough per portion of bread to have a benefit. It’s a wholegrain barley flour, and declared as such, so it’s a very natural source. It gives a sweet and nutty note to the end-product and adds fibre on top."

Another big area of growth on the healthy eating front is gluten-free mixes. National Starch Innovation has also introduced an E-number-free speciality gluten-free flour called Homecraft Create GF 20. The ingredients used are derived from tapioca and rice. "It can really improve the quality of products across the gluten-free segment," says Maliska. "Some of the main benefits come with improving the volume, the crumb structure and the softness of the crumb in gluten-free bread. It maintains an elastic structure with a very good bite and chewiness so it really feels like a regular bread.

"It prevents the product from being too dry and too crumbly, and has a good shelf-life. Used in pastry and biscuits, you’ll have a product with a good bite while maintaining a good texture." It is also claimed to increase yield. Using 20% in a bread formulation, you’d get 5% more yield than some baking starches and flours currently being marketed, she claims.

The growth in gluten-free has been one of the headline successes in bakery in recent times. The category is proving attractive enough to draw smaller and medium-sized bakeries into dedicating facilities to their manufacture. "There is a lot of interest at the moment in gluten-free products. We have different mixes for that for baguettes and rolls that are really selling for us. Gluten-free is a niche, but it’s a niche worth investing in," says Maurice van Tongeren, head of sales international, at ingredients supplier Ireks.

Meanwhile, sales of the company’s mix that uses spelt which some expected to be a short-lived trend continue to boom, to the extent that it is Ireks’ number one seller. "More and more of the bigger bakeries are interested in that now," he says of the grain that has much lower gluten levels than regular flour. "But this is really a success that’s come from the high street baker, and it’s still a very trendy grain."

Seeds and healthy blends are, of course, one of the main draws of turning to speciality mixes. For example, the health benefits of gia seeds have been attracting a lot of column inches for their health-giving properties and high Omega 3s. To capitalise, Ireks has launched a gia seed bread mix in the UK, containing 5% of the seeds. Also, sourdough mixes are in the ascendancy as bakers look to introduce more flavour to bread. "People want to go back to slow baking with longer fermentation times," says Van Tongeren. "We’ve created a mix called Artisano, which has eight different malts and sourdoughs in there. It has a very strong malty taste, a nice brown crumb colour and a good crust."

The growth in sourdough mix products in the UK was confirmed by Bakels’ recent acquisitions of Nutribake and Aromatic. This will see the mixes manufacturer offering more ingredients based on sourdough technology, as well as Swiss and German artisan bread types and functional ingredients for cake. "We are in the process of launching sourdough powders now," comments Paul Morrow, MD of British Bakels. "An awful lot of breads in the UK now contain sours, because they’re increasingly being used as flavour enhancers, but they would not necessarily be marketed as sourdough bread. It’s a growing market."

Case study

It is easy to lose faith quickly if a new product in a shop’s range does not immediately meet with success. One way to improve a new bread’s chances of finding favour is to educate your customers by using the point-of-sale (POS) support that accompanies new launches from ingredients suppliers. Long-established bakery chain Warrens Bakery is one such case, having recently launched CSM’s Pantique Ancient Cereals Bread mix in its 56 shops.
"We’ve tried new products before, but what appealed to us was the uniqueness of the product itself, which we felt would be popular with our customers, and the availability of a POS support package to help us make the product highly visible," explains Jason Jobling of Warrens Bakery.
Warrens rolled out the bread to all of its shops across Cornwall and Devon, making use of supplied bread bands, posters and leaflets, which told customers the story of the ancient grains used in the mix. Shop managers regularly trialled the product in front of shoppers, with lightly buttered pieces of the bread offered for tasting. Retail staff were schooled in the history of the grains and incentivised with an inter-shop sales competition. "Customers have been interested in the emmer, einkorn and spelt ancient cereals story with their inherent wholesome image," adds Jobling. "Consumers are happy to pay a little bit more for something a bit different, which tastes good and is well presented."