Traditionally the last bastion of indulgence, worth the calories and extra workout time for every sweet, flaky bite, bakery products are experiencing a reboot with consumers discovering that even baked goods can experience a healthy reset without compromising taste or texture.
The category owes this turnaround in part to the incorporation of new plant-based ingredients that are taking baked products – including breads, cookies, muffins, and waffles – to new heights.
From pea-flour tortilla chips to kale and broccoli-based pizza crust, consumers are accepting a variety of new plant-based ingredients in baked foods, even their sweet baked treats. This is partly due to an increased desire to make their diets healthier, but these plant-based ingredients now also boast more functionality and versatility than ever.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
These new plant-based and health-focussed trends leave bakery product formulators with several challenges: they must create products that are perceived as natural and label-friendly while also using ingredients that are both familiar and functional – and of course they can’t compromise on taste.
Plant-based proteins, for example, are finding their way into a variety of baked goods. Consumers are not only interested in getting more protein in their diets – with nearly half seeing it as “very important” – they are also increasingly open to products containing plant-based proteins from sources like corn, peas, chickpeas, quinoa, and soy.
Both pea and soy protein are now being used to improve the nutritional profile of various bakery products, adding a good protein claim while maintaining a friendly label. Some of these ingredients also adhere to requirements of trendy high-protein diets like Paleo, Keto and gluten-free eating, although meeting some of these standards would also require new plant-based oils and flours from foods like almonds and coconut.
HITTING THE SWEET SPOT
New plant-based ingredients are also replacing or reducing sugar in bakery items. Consumers still like their sweet indulgent bakery treats, but they are also increasingly looking for treats that are healthier, made with ingredients they perceive as natural, sweeteners that contain less sugar, and fewer artificial ingredients – giving consumers permission to indulge.
Of course, the taste and mouthfeel have to be right, and mimicking both taste and texture of sugar without it is no easy task. Again, suppliers have pushed the envelope to learn how plant-based sweeteners fulfil these requirements.
There are a growing number of ingredient combinations that can replace sugar’s varied functions. Replicating sweetness is one of the easier objectives. For example, next-generation stevia sweeteners can now provide as much as 50 percent sugar reduction, as well as both improved sweet taste and flavour in bakery applications, as compared to earlier extracts made from the stevia compound Reb A.
The result is new bakery foods that offer a better nutritional profile and a great taste that meets consumer expectations for
mouthfeel and texture. And that’s a win for the bakery category on all fronts.
This article and many more can be found in the Supermarket News magazine HERE.