Bread product launches have continued to rise globally in recent years, though amid tightening health claim regulations in the EU and North America, growth in the functional bread sector has slowed somewhat, according to Innova Market Insights.
Still, bread products featuring some kind of health claim made up more than 42% of the total new bread launches in 2013. That number differs considerably by region—increasing to 75% in the US and Australia and 70% in Latin America; but falling to less than 30% in the non-traditional bread markets in Asia.
Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, noted that although promotional activity and innovation in functional bread is down, “this does not mean that interest in healthier options has reduced, however, but more that the positioning of bread has changed to focus more on a generally healthy and nutritious image, rather than making specific claims,” she said.
Just 5% of global bread market claims are active; ‘naturalness’ most popular claim
Innova Market Insights divides health claims and positioning into two types: passive, such as low and light, organic and gluten-free; and active, which signifies the addition of particular ingredients, such as calcium, protein and fiber, or the promotion of specific benefits such as heart health or digestive health.
Passive claims dominated in the global bread market in 2013, with more than 40% of launches using them, compared with just 5% using active claims of some kind. Again these numbers vary regionally, with more than 11% of launches using active claims in the US, compared with 6% in Asia and 3% in Europe.
The most popular health claims in the bread market overall referred to “naturalness,” with one-fifth of 2013 launches using one or more claims relating to naturalness, additive- or preservative-free formulations or an organic positioning. Nearly 17% used either whole grain positioning or high-in-/ source-of-fiber claims.
US interest in naturalness tracked even higher, with more than one third of launches using claims related to naturalness and a similar percentage using fiber/whole grain claims. Innova credited these numbers largely to the maturity and competitiveness of the US market, which keeps the focus on differentiation, along with American consumers’ ongoing interest in health.
Vitamin and mineral fortification lead active claims
Within the lesser used active health claims group, the most frequently used were vitamin and mineral fortification, featured in 1.5% of launches, ahead of omega-3/DHA fortification and heart health, with about 1% each.
Still, as Innova pointed out, US consumers continue to focus on healthier breads, fortified with healthful ingredients or featuring reduced levels of sodium, sugar and fat. Whole grain products have continued to grow in popularity and use of ancient grains continues to increase.