Vegetable fortified bread has gone mainstream in Canada and this could help combat some of the sector’s bad health press, says an analyst.
Chris Brockman, senior global food and drink analyst at Mintel, said that previously these kinds of products have appeared in very niche settings. Yet in Canada the idea is moving into the mainstream bread aisle with launches from the country’s two biggest bakery names, Weston Bakeries and Canada Bread, which aim to re-educate consumers about bread.
Improving bread’s health profile
Brockman told BakeryandSnacks.com that bringing fruit and vegetable content into bakery products could be a way of trying to improve bread’s health profile.
The Dempster’s and Pom garden vegetable breads, owned by Canada Bread and launched in July and September respectively, contain a quarter of a serving of vegetables per slice through the inclusion of carrot in particular.The Country Harvest veggie bread range from Weston Bakeries launched this month claims each slice represents one serving of vegetables and more variety including tomato, red and green peppers, zucchini, celery, leek and spinach, as well as carrot.
In the advert for Dempster’s vegetable bread, models on a fashion shoot eat sandwiches made with the veggie bread. Brockman said that: "This follows the strategy that Dempster’s in particular has pursued in trying to educate consumers about the nutritional qualities of bread rather than rely on old fashioned imagery about baking heritage and tradition."
A struggling sector
He said that bread consumption in most mature packaged bread markets is on the decline as consumers try to avoid bread on health grounds, meaning companies are struggling to maintain volumes.
“Consumption is going down with issues of health around the bread in terms of its carbohydrate content, fat content and salt content,” he explained.
This has led to an influx of competition on the market place in recent years working from varying formats like breakfast alternatives of cereal bars, breakfast biscuits and breakfast drinks. “It’s all replacing toast and bread products at breakfast time,” he said.
“All the alternatives you have at lunch are taking the sandwich market in a downward direction,” he added.
Brockman said that launches like the veggie breads could help combat this decline. “Bread is a sector that is really really struggling to maintain consumption levels and so trying to build health into product offerings has been a particular focus,” he said.
Canada leading the way
Brockman said this is the first time this has been seen in the mainstream bread sector, with previous vegetable fortified products including things like spinach tortillas in the US.
He said that there is a growing trend of "hidden vegetables" in Canada, perhaps due to the advice given in the country to eat between five and ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
"Canadians are facing many of the same lifestyle issues as their neighbours to the south, namely rising obesity rates and increasingly busy lifestyles. However, Canadians are more likely to place health above convenience and this is driving demand for healthier products, especially for children," Brockman wrote in a report on the topic.