According to Euromonitor's report 'Bakery Products: top trends for 2008 and beyond', 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. Manufacturers must therefore tailor their products to meet this consumer demand for products that both boost their nutritional input and flatter their vanity, the market analysts said. "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." Superfoods and Functional ingredients According to the report, bakery products with added health-boosting ingredients will continue to prove popular over the coming year, and functional ingredients such as plant sterols will become more common in retail products. Euromonitor cites the example of Bimbo Bakeries, which manufactures its Oroweat bread with both the plant sterol Corowise and oat bran for a product that is marketed as being functional as well as low in fat and calories. In terms of superfoods, natural ingredients with high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, exotic fruits such as acai and goji berries will continue to dominate trends, the report said. In the UK, manufacturers should also consider using folic acid as an ingredient in more products, as the government is currently discussing whether flour should be fortified with the nutrient by law, Euromonitor added. Free from According to Euromonitor, another important area of the healthy bakery market is 'free from' products, targeted at consumers with allergies. "There has been a significant rise in food allergies across the industrialised world, possibly connected with the lack of exposure to bacteria in increasingly clean societies," the analysts said. Consumers with gluten allergies will be of particular interest to the bakery industry, and manufacturers should build on the existing market for bread and cakes that can be eaten by consumers with coeliac disease, the report said. Furthermore, in countries with a high proportion of vegetarians and/or diabetic consumers, such as India, baked goods could have a virtually untapped potential for egg-free and sugar-free varieties, the report added. Market leaders According to earlier research carried out by Euromonitor, the top three bakery manufacturers in Europe - Barilla, Danone and Kellogg - dominate the market, at least in part, because of their successful entry into the healthy bakery market. Euromonitor market researcher Irina Kazanchuk told BakeryAndSnacks in November that the key to their success if that they all offer some form of baked goods that are perceived as being "good for health", but do not compromise on taste. "Positioning of the main market leaders is likely to remain unchanged as they will be concentrating on expending their "better for you" product offering and trying to keep production costs from rising," she said. Barilla, Danone and Kellogg share 7.8 per cent of the Western European market between them, she added.