Speaking exclusively to BakeryandSnacks.com, the enzyme specialist’s global marketing director Jesper Laursen said freshness had started to mean different things among industry and consumers.
“When you talk about bread, I think there are really two factors in play. One is the definition we associate with freshness – the softness aspects, the elasticity; the basics of freshness… Then you also see the other sense which is the quality, the premiumization; everything related to indulgence. So freshness becomes multi-dimensional,” he said.
The definition of freshness has started to mean not only different things, but more things, he added.
For industry, he said that this is fundamentally a good thing. “Consumer is king and I think it’s a matter of meeting the consumer expectations, and generally they are rising. Whether it’s across the western world or Asia, expectations are just increasing.”
US versus Europe
Laursen said that while consumer expectations are collectively rising across the globe, differences can be seen – particularly in terms of expectations around freshness in bakery.
“The US is a market that is quite consolidated and probably the furthest along in terms of how they define freshness and what the expectation is in terms of having bread that is fresh,” he said.
“Europe, I think, is still evolving… The expectations for freshness are still growing in Europe.”
Laursen said that while this could be explained by various drivers, the main reason was that breads have been sold in supermarkets and retailers for longer in the US.
“The push for freshness is there. You also see now that the trend is also picking up in emerging markets. We see more and more of the final retailers demanding that you have a long shelf life. Similarly, if you take a company like Starbucks – they need to provide cakes in multiple locations across the world with the same good quality as expected,” he said.
Bakery beyond shelf life…
Bakers are of course still concerned about shelf life, Laursen said, particularly waste in bakery as this has cost implications.
Bread can be thrown out by consumers or retailers because of molding, dryness or physical appearance, he said. “Especially on the retail side, a lot of bread is still wasted on the aisles and it is something that we of course address with our ingredients.”
However, on top of waste and shelf life concerns, bakers are looking at other ways to compete, he added.
Industry is looking to differentiate, he explained, and manufacturers are working on this by improving quality and offering premium variants while maintaining low costs.
This trend of better quality at lower costs has not slowed down, Laursen said, and it means Novozymes has to work hard. “It’s a strategy of running faster and introducing new innovations to the market that can fit that improved quality, bring something extra but doesn’t cost more.”