In today’s increasingly health-conscious society, consumers are becoming more aware of the provenance of foods and the ingredients they contain. As a result, products that are perceived to have associated health benefits are growing rapidly in popularity. Manufacturers are responding to this consumer demand in a number of ways including introducing lower fat versions of popular bakery products, reducing salt levels and eliminating ingredients such as

hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial flavours and additives.

This drive to provide a wider range of healthier products has carried through to inclusions, where the addition of ’superfoods’, such as berries, nuts and seeds, is seen to boost the healthy credentials of breads, muffins and cookies. Consumers are buying into such products and are willing to pay a premium for them.

Take acai berries, for example. Until recently relatively unheard of, these fruits, which grow on palm trees native to the Amazon and Brazilian rainforests, are rich in many important nutrients and antioxidants and are credited with many health benefits. The positive PR generated by these berries has increased the popularity of products that contain them and is driving sales.

While it is true to say that sweet baked goods will remain an indulgence product, items with healthier inclusions provide bakery retailers with a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, maximise sales and add consumer interest.

Simon Richardson, sales and marketing director, Rich Products