Innovation - particularly around major food trends such as naturalness and snacking - could help drive the performance of savory and sweet bakery, Mintel food & drink research manager Chris Brockman said in a presentation at the Food Ingredients Europe (FIE) show in Paris this week.
“There is plenty of innovation potential to engage with consumers who may be reappraising the role of baking products in their diet,” he added.
Despite the wider boom in snacking, bread was underrepresented in snacking occasions in many European countries, according to Mintel Euroscan consumer research, and is used far less frequently as a snack than it is at more formal meal times for example (see table below).
In terms of tapping new eating occasions, a stand-out industry success has been Mulino Bianco Focaccelle from Italian business Barilla, said Mintel analyst Chris Brockman. Sold in multipacks of six individually wrapped focaccia portions, these breads launched in May 2014 in three flavours - with extra virgin oil, with black olives and with cherry tomatoes – and have been joined this year by a chocolate variant. The range achieved sales of around $25m (€23.4m) in its first year on shelf. “It’s a simple idea done well,” said Brockman. “Nice bread, in nice packaging, in nice flavors. And it works.”
In the breakfast market, baked goods have lost ground to more convenient on-the-go products including drinks and biscuits, with around four in ten 16 to 24-year-olds in some European countries saying they do not have time for bread or baked goods in the morning.
However, some bakers have developed innovative products to tap the on-the-go opportunity, said Brockman, including France’s Jacquet White Bread to Roll, which is designed for quickly making rolled snack sandwiches; and Australia’s Tip Top Grab'n Go Fruit & Fibre Breakfast Buns. Japan also offers inspiration for product development with its single-serve sweet bakery snacks including the Fujipan soft bagel and Pasco My Bagel chocolate bagel.
Flavor innovation offers another opportunity to encourage consumers to re-engage with baked goods.
“Different flavors can appeal to younger consumers who are perhaps moving away from traditional bakery,” said Brockman, adding NPD should be about putting “fun back into bakery”.
“While one reason people don’t consume so much bread is increased competition from other products, they also are bored with the ‘wall of beige’,” he claimed. “More colour and more flavor could attract consumers back to the category.”
Mintel’s research found 17% of Spanish consumers are interested in trying flavored bread, a proportion that rose to a high of 38% in Germany.
More interesting flavors are also a potential growth area for sweet bakery goods, with a poll of British consumers showing only 15% associate cakes with exciting flavors compared with 32% for ice cream, and four in ten saying they like to try new flavors of cake.
Seasonal occasions offer opportunities for new flavors that have generally been under-utilized in bread, said Brockman, although he flagged Pepperidge Farm’s Swirl brand as a successful exponent of this strategy – its limited editions include Pumpkin Spice Bread for Halloween and Gingerbread Bread for Christmas.
New varieties of bread from different regions, or ethnic bread, could also attract consumers by offering interesting formats and flavors.
Naturalness and health is continuing to shape new product development, with a shift away from launches making negative claims such as low salt and low transfat, and increased use of positive associations such as higher fiber or higher protein (although the later remains niche at the moment).
“Health is a real issue for the bakery market, with many health and diet trends such as gluten-free, carb-consciousness and concerns about additives working against it,” said Brockman. “Some consumers won’t eat bread at all when on a diet, for example, and there are concerns about too many preservatives - but that presents opportunities to improve the health profile of bakery products, and consumers are interested in healthier bread.”
Examples of recent health-focused launches from mainstream players include the UK’s Hovis Good Inside loaves fortified with fiber, omega-3 from seeds, and wheatgerm containing 14 vitamins & minerals; and the premium Bimbo Healthfull range in the US, described as a good source of fiber. Also tapping the naturalness trend are products making use of ancient and sprouted grains, such as breads with chia seeds or quinoa.