Jennifer Zegler, Mintel's global food and drink analyst told BakeryandSnacks that most bread manufacturers are still dealing with the “hangover” of low carbs.
“Carbs is still an ‘enemy territory’ for some consumers, also because it feeds into some of their gluten fears,” she said.
“There is probably not a big market space for athletes-oriented bread, but as long as companies make sure bread is part of that demographics’ diet, there is still an opportunity. Also, some people are going to indulge at some point and feel guilty.”
Protein’s role in bakery
Zegler said protein has been widely used in snack bars and beverages. Plant-based proteins are a good fit for bread, especially as consumers want more plant-based food in their diets, such as fruit, vegetables, botanicals, grains and seeds.
For example, in the UK, Warburtons has launched a protein bread made with a pulse blend, including navy beans and chickpeas, she added.
On the sweet side, Zegler said using vegetables can also bring down sugar content and add natural colors to the products.
“We’ve seen more and more veggie bakery products on the market, such as chocolate cakes made with beets, and carrot cakes,” she said.
Bringing back the past
The fresh bread category has experienced flat sales over the past year with 0.3% annual growth, according to the IRI data for the past 52 weeks ending December, 25, 2016.
Grupo Bimbo posted $2.43bn in sales from its fresh bread portfolio during the period, growing at 2.7% year-over-year, while Flowers Foods posted $1.88bn in sales, growing at 1.7% compared to previous year, according to IRI.
However, some other bakeries have achieved “huge success” by using ancient techniques and traditional ingredients, Zegler said.
“It has to do with consumers looking to the past for inspiration and trustworthiness to feel that these products are safe,” she said. “Within the bakery category, it is leading many companies to use ancient grains, such as quinoa.
“The other trend is sourdough. Besides its connection with ancient techniques, it also delivers unique flavor through a natural process,” Zegler said.