A recent online survey in Germany, commissioned by National Starch, found that consumers were 20% more likely to buy bakery products if they had added health claims. These included "helps to control blood sugar levels", "increases dietary fibre intake", "promotes a healthy digestive system" and "delivers prebiotic properties".
A total of 1,007 men and women aged between 25 and 65 were sampled.
White sliced bread was found to benefit significantly when it had added health claims, such as "increases dietary fibre intake and promotes a healthy digestive system". The survey said this could increase sales by 10-26% compared with a standard white loaf.
The least popular claim in the study was "delivers prebiotic properties".
.EC regulations, which came into force last month, however, state that health claims on products must conform to strict conditions.
Regulation No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament is unified across the EU. Nutrition claims and conditions applying to them include: low fat - the claim can only be made where the product contains no more than 3% fat; low sodium - the claim can only be made where the product contains no more than 0.12% sodium; and low sugar - the claim may only be made where the product contains no more than 5% sugar.
Other health claims include: high fibre - a product must have at least 6% fibre; high source of protein - the product must contain at least 10% of the Dietary Reference Values (DRV); and high source of vitamins and minerals - the product must contain at least 15% DRV.