The growing role of functional ingredients in baked goods
As consumers become more health-conscious, their concerns have extended beyond simply calorie reduction, with a greater focus on holistic wellness. As well as what’s taken out, consumers are more conscious about the functional benefits that are added to their choices.
“There is a growing demand for products that provide functional health benefits, including prebiotics, probiotics and proteins,” Olivier Kutz, bakery category director for Europe at Tate & Lyle told this site.
“While these can be naturally occurring in certain products, we are increasingly beginning to see formulations that have been fortified with functional ingredients, meaning there is now a broader range of products with functional claims.”
Tate & Lyle’s recent report on the European bakery industry – which surveyed 400 senior bakery industry professionals across Germany, France, Spain and the UK – found that 51% of the respondents said consumers are today veering towards baked treats that offer additional nutritional benefits.
“As such, manufacturers have an opportunity to boost their sales if they can successfully innovate and provide new formulations of consumers’ favourite products that also offer some of the additional health claims they are looking for,” added Kutz.
However, simply adding functional ingredients to a bakery item is easier said than done and manufacturers will be faced with many technical barriers. Functional ingredients – while adding a dimension of better-for-you goodness – tend to also affect the taste, colour, texture and mouthfeel of the end result.
While consumers are on the lookout for more products with that extra edge, taste remains the most important factor, said Kutz.
“This should undoubtedly be the foremost concern for manufacturers. It is important to ensure that any functional ingredients they use to fortify their products have a clean taste and can also help to maintain colour and texture.”
Functional ingredients come in various forms and guises, but Tate & Lyle have found that consumers are particularly looking to fortify their protein and fibre consumption.
“We have seen a growing demand for protein across a range of different categories,” said Kutz, noting that protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, so protein-fortified products are a popular choice for the active set.
“This presents a significant opportunity for manufacturers of baked goods to tap into and meet this growing consumer demand for foods that are high in protein but still classified as indulgent, particularly snack bars.
“In Europe, innovation has also been growing steadily in the biscuit category as manufacturers respond to consumer demand for healthier, protein-fortified options, [according to Mintel GNPD].”
“As demand increases there will be greater scope for more products to offer protein-fortified claims.”
He added that Tate & Lyle has developed a range of systems that can be used as a protein source across a host of different formulations, providing stability in the baking process and helping manufacturers to ensure quality is maintained.
The evolution of plant-based proteins, in particular, has grown at a trajectory pace over the past two years and today there are a larger number of options available on the market than ever before.
While they are tapping into the growing consumer need for clean label and natural ingredients, these proteins can also be used to provide different technological functions. For example, egg is a vital component to baked goods, particularly in terms of providing structure, gloss and shine. Today, however, producers have developed a variety of protein solutions that provide the parity of eggs – and even dairy products – to keep within the baked treat’s plant-based criteria, but also maintaining taste and texture.
Fibre is increasingly noted for its fundamental role in digestive health – however, “we know that the majority of Brits still do not consume the daily recommended amount of fibre.
“This is where fibre fortification can play an important role, helping people to increase their fibre intake without having to make significant changes to their diet or compromising on their favourite foods,” said Kutz.
“Wholegrains, such as those found in whole meal bread, are a good natural source of fibre, but we also know that some consumers – particularly children – prefer white bread.
“As such, we have worked with our customers to fortify white loaves with up to 12% fibre by using soluble fibres in tandem with our range of stabilisers and functional systems.”
Like the protein option, Tate & Lyle has a variety of solutions that will help manufactures add fibre fortification to their baked goods without impacting the taste or texture; in fact, also helping to build mouthfeel in sugar-reduced products.
“Health considerations are only going to become even more important, with people paying greater attention to their health during the pandemic. As such, there is a real opportunity for manufacturers to grow their sales if they can find the right formula that balances quality with the functional benefits that consumers are looking for,” said Kutz.