The Healthy Bread Basket

Consumers have not typically looked to the bakery market for healthy sustenance, but the pandemic has resulted in a more hands-on approach to baking and therefore a renewed interest in what goes into our food and our body. Consequently, the industrial baker has opportunities to fulfil the increased demands for healthy in-home and on-the-go baked goods, to fill the healthy bread basket. Whether the focus is to design innovative bakery products, value engineer existing products, or reformulate to adjust for broken supply chains, knowledge of affordable health-promoting ingredients and systems is fundamental.

Enriched Dough

For the Mindful Nutritionist, the definition of ‘enriched’ goes beyond brioche, to encompass ingredients that enrich body and mind, within an increasingly tighter budget.

More is being discovered about the significant effects of the gut microbiome on holistic health. “Gut microbiota plays a significant role in maintaining host health, which could supply various nutrients, regulate energy balance, modulate the immune response, and defend against pathogens. “ (1) Offering consumers easy ways to boost fibre intake by inclusion in baked goods is one way to attract the Mindful Nutritionist who is looking to improve their immune health. In terms of formulation for bakery, to fill the healthy bread basket, this can be achieved with functional ingredients such as oligofructose, prebiotic dietary fibres derived from sugar beet and cane sugar; or, fibres from potato or pulses.

Opportunities exist to deliver protein enriched baked goods, that would benefit the health and wellbeing of specific customer groups, as well as having a wider appeal for the Mindful Nutritionists and their self-care agenda. This could be achieved using whey protein powders, or if the emphasis is on plant-based, then pulse, oat and wheat proteins are ideal.

Tools to Aid the Self-Care Agenda

Many European markets are adopting the Nutri-Score, front-of-pack label, that provides user-friendly information on the nutritional quality of food and beverages. Promotions and advertising on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) were due to be restricted from October 2022, in the UK, but have been delayed for one year due to the ‘unprecedented global economic situation’ (2). These measures are still coming, and will serve to assist consumers in making better health choices, albeit at the right price-point.

Every ingredient will need to earn its place on the ingredient list, contributing to the nutritional component of the product or replacing fat, salt, sugar, or indeed any specified allergen.  Product developers have a range of functional ‘replacers’ at their fingertips.

In terms of fat reduction, starch-based ingredients from potato or tapioca offer water- and fat-binding properties, whilst maltodextrins from waxy maize mimic the texture and melt-away of soft fats.

Salt-reduction can be achieved using potassium-based or calcium-based leavening agents in place of salt, or flavour modulation systems or stevia extracts to enhance the savoury flavour profile.

Stevia has become a mainstay of sugar-reduction strategies, along with sugar alcohols, polyols, and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) that offer a prebiotic, lower calorie alternative to sugar. For bakery applications, cereal and dried fruit extracts may provide not only natural sugar reduction, but also additional desirable properties such as natural colour, depth of flavour and crispness.

Sustainable Health

It is imperative that food producers contribute to sourcing sustainable ingredients in an equitable manner, and focus on deriving products, processes and packaging that reduce food waste. The pendulum is swinging back towards food that offers good health and good value. Food insecurity is a very real issue that resonate with the Clean Conscience mindset – requiring clean labels and a minimal environmental footprint.

For example, enriching baked goods with proteins derived from pea and bean sources, which offer the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions per gram of protein, meets this criteria.

Or, take another example of naturally occurring and sustainable enzymes which can extend the shelf-life of baked goods and improve product quality and appearance. Furthermore, since enzymes are typically classified as a processing aid, they are not listed in the ingredient declaration, keeping that label clean.

Innovative, sustainable and cost-sensitive methods to reduce food waste without the need for additional preservatives is something that the Mindful Nutritionist will be pleased to hear.

Free Bakery Formulation Webinar

The Univar Solutions Food Ingredients team is hosting a free webinar on the 21st June 2022 to address the challenge of the healthy bread basket and to discuss formulating healthy bakery products and showcase some of the most functional and innovative ingredients and technologies. 

Discover Wellness in Bakery Register Now for the free webinar