Bread and baked goods are increasingly stepping into the functional food arena, with the past month alone seeing a number of new developments designed to bring added health to the category.
George Weston Bakeries in the US this week launched an omega-3 bread, which is formulated to improve heart health.
Grains & More Double Omega bread, marketed under the Arnold and Brownberry brand names, contains 25mg of omega-3 EPA/DHA per slice. The product is formulated using the fish-derived Meg-3 branded ingredient from Ocean Nutrition.
Although fish oil is considered to be the best source of the heart-healthy omega-3, it has been notoriously difficult to incorporate into formulations since it is highly susceptible to oxidation. Canadian ingredients firm Ocean Nutrition claims its ingredient overcomes this challenge as it is formulated using a patented Powder-loc micro-encapsulation technology.
This protects the oil within a multi-shell inner matrix, with a protective outer shell surrounding it. It is said, therefore, to create 'double protection' for the oil from both oxidation and the stress of food processing. The technology also allows the ingredient to withstand high temperatures and pasteurization processes.
The new bread from George Weston also contains 20g of whole grains per slice, and is marketed as providing a good source of fibre and protein. The bread range also includes a newly-launched sterol product (see below).
A “major bakery industry giant” is said to be looking into a new algae omega-3 ingredient, as a way to develop “brainy” products, according to the ingredient’s manufacturer Eau+.
The UK-based nutraceutical firm this week said its ingredient delivers a vegetarian version of the long chain fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are normally obtained through fish oil.
V-Pure is said to be able to deliver 40-80 per cent DHA and 10-50 per cent EPA in products including bread, pastry and pasta.
The firm said it will “massively increase production output” of its phyto-plankton omega-3 oils following the development of a European fermentation facility. Output is expected to reach 1,000 tons of oil per year.
According to Eau+, a patented emulsifying process protects the omega-3 from oxidization and heat, which means that much less of the ingredient can be used to obtain the same level of essential fats. This could potentially cut costs for manufacturers by 30-40 per cent, it said.
Earlier this month, two cholesterol-lowering, sterol-imbued bread products were launched on the US market, made with the ingredients from Cargill and Cognis.
Cargill’s CoroWise sterol ingredient was incorporated into Kroger’s Active Lifestyle range that includes Honey Oat with Whole Grain and 100% Whole Wheat varieties and is available in mid-western and southern states.
Cognis’s Heart Choice sterol was used in a new George Weston Bakeries healthy bread range called Grains & More that appears under the Arnold and Brownberry brands. The product is called Double Oat Hearty Oatmeal Bread.
“In quantitative testing, we found that reducing cholesterol is one of the top five health benefits consumers prefer when purchasing bread,” said Jennifer Hartley, business director of the Arnold and Brownberry brands.
Cargill’s CoroWise ingredient already appears in a bread called Oroweat Whole Grain & Oat that is found mainly in western states, while Cognis’ Heart Choice is present in a German rye bread.
Both products contain 0.4g of plant sterols and are able to employ the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unqualified health claim that states consumption of sterol-imbued products "may reduce the risk of heart disease", a claim that can be used if products contain 0.65g of sterol esters or 0.4g of free phytosterols.
Clinical data indicates cholesterol levels can be reduced by between 8 and 15 per cent if these servings can be consumed twice daily.
A report released by Euromonitor in May this year revealed that the trend for healthy and functional foods will continue to dominate the bakery market, resulting in yet still more space for innovation in this area.
The report, 'Bakery Products: top trends for 2008 and beyond', found that consumers of all ages will continue to lean towards bakery products they view as healthy or nutritious, driven by governmental pressure to eat well along with a growing 'obsession' with body image.
"The trends that currently characterise the bakery market are likely to continue in 2008; however, it will not just be more of the same," Euromonitor said. "The coming year will bring innovations that pull together trends to meet a broader range of opportunities and challenges."
The report highlighted ingredient including plant sterols, oat bran, vitamins, antioxidants and superfruits. Another important area of the healthy bakery market is 'free from' products, targeted at consumers with allergies, it said.