Now that the short-lived revival of white bread has passed, we can go back to writing about more interesting breads again. And it’s the healthy bread category that’s showing a real uplift, shifting double-digit volume growth in the last year.

The market for seeded breads grew by 8.5% in value (Kantar Worldpanel, 52 w/e 11 July, 2010) and the number of packs sold over the last 12 months increased by 13.6% a clear indication that shoppers are bringing variety back into their basket. In fact, over half of all UK households purchased seeded bread in the last 12 months, up 1.6%.

This has heralded several intriguing ingredients launches for breads with a healthier USP. Low-GI, healthy eating and wholegrains with added flavour and texture are back on the up. "Our research shows that a more informed consumer is now seeking a choice of healthy bread-eating options for all occasions and to suit the tastes of all the family," says David Astles, product group manager at CSM United Kingdom, which last month launched a brand new mix or a new mix that’s an old mix, to be more accurate.

Arkady Ancient Cereals combines einkorn, emmer and spelt to create a modern, rustic bread and a product that is easy to use while offering consistent performance in the bakery. This requires just the addition of flour, yeast and water and has a high tolerance of different processing conditions, good handling and fresh keeping qualities, claims the firm. It has been launched alongside its existing Combicorn multigrain and seeded mix and a Multiseed Bread Concentrate. With anti-staling technology, these give longer keeping qualities and softness of texture for sandwiches and breads that are chilled.

Another key area of development is bread with oats, following the EFSA-approved heart health claim. This prompted two major oat bread launches from Kingsmill and then Hovis earlier this year. Now the craft sector can get in on the act, and Bakels is predicting that its Oat & Barley bread launch will be as big as its top-selling Multiseed bread. This new concentrate follows the same formula as the Multiseed mix, in that it’s high in fibre, a source of protein and meets the Food Standards Agency 2012 salt guidelines. The flavour comes from fermented wheat flour, malted wheat flakes, malt flour, oat meal, oat flakes, barley and wheat fibre. The end result is a soft eating bread with a slight beery aroma, says the firm.

"We have timed the launch to coincide with the 2010 Baking Industry Awards where we are sponsoring the Speciality Bread Product of the Year, so confident are we of its potential," says Pauline Ferrol, national sales controller of British Bakels. "In fact, we might have entered a loaf into the awards ourselves, had we not been the category sponsor!"

This will be backed up by point-of-sale posters and information leaflets for consu-mers explaining the concept. It also has a different USP to the hunger-slowing appeal of low-GI loaves, with heart health coming to the fore. The potential markets are for breakfast, healthy eating sandwiches for school lunches and snacks, believes Ferrol.

According to many general dietary guidelines and recommendations, part of a healthy lifestyle is adequate fibre consumption. Consumers are increasingly aware of the benefits of a diet rich in wholegrain, but many people still prefer the flavour and texture of white bread over wholemeal.

Ingredients firm Eurostar Commodities is launching premium high-fibre cereal mixes into the market. A UK first, Molino Alimonti Gran Fibra cereal mixes were developed to help produce healthier alternatives to pizza, bread, pastry and cakes. The mixes are high in fibre, low in carbohydrates and rich in nutrients, containing a balance of whole wheat flours, bran, oats, barley and seeds with no additives or preservatives. The mixes are designed to encourage improved digestion and intestinal health while reducing the absorption of sugar and fats, says Eurostar.

"The range is a brand new offering for British bakers," says Jason Bull, sales and marketing director at Eurostar Commodities. "The mixes contain all-natural ingredients and have been carefully crafted to be healthy, nutritious and well-balanced, while also offering a deep richness of flavour."

Proposed applications include shortcrust biscuits, sponge and soft cakes; leavened cake dough, which doesn’t need sheeting; and bread-making, providing more yield and elasticity of dough.

Stabilised grains

Another new entry into the UK market from Europe comes from natural ingredients supplier Naturis, which has joined forces with Caremoli to introduce CareGrain, a premium range of stabilised whole grains and pulses. These were developed using a "thermo-physical" process to create a unique "ready-to-eat" or "quick cook" finished product, which are both 100% natural and 100% wholegrain.

"I travel to numerous food manufacturers across the UK and Europe, demonstrating the benefits of CareGrain in cereals, bakery inclusions and ready-to-eat salads," says David Williams, Naturis’ technical manager for UK and Europe. "Through repeated sampling and feedback I receive, the products have helped many customers to introduce additional health benefits and new textures to existing and new products."

Meanwhile, for customers still wedded to their white bread, but who would prefer healthier benefits, one ingredient option is inulin. This offers the opportunity to develop a fibre-enriched white bread with the same dietary fibre content as wholemeal bread. Inulin is a clean-label ingredient with a number of possible labelling options, ranging from inulin or chicory extract, to dietary/vegetable fibre.

Azelis/S Black is supplying Frutafit inulin from Sensus, which can be added to bread in amounts of up to 8%. It is possible to further increase the fibre content of wholemeal bread by blending inulin with other insoluble fibres, says the firm. Inulin can also act as a mild reducing sugar and can therefore have an effect in Maillard browning, claims S Black. This can lead to improved colour and flavour in the crust. Furthermore, it might allow for a decrease in baking temperature or baking time, while still achieving the same crust colour and flavour.

The company also offers a range of wheat, oat and apple fibres. In addition to fibre enrichment, these insoluble fibres are used as texturising agents and can bind water to give new opportunities for cost reduction and increased fresh eating shelf-life, due to increased dough yield.