The bakery ingredients supplier has taken the pulse of the nation through a series of ‘shopalong’ reviews, focus groups and online surveys to find out the perception of grains and seeds in bakery.
“Grains and seeds are a good source of fibre, which is known to offer an array of health benefits beyond digestion,” said Ben Ledger, marketing manager for Bakery, Puratos UK.
“Despite acceptance of this among consumers and concerted efforts from health authorities, closing the fibre gap is a prevailing issue in the UK and beyond.
“The decades-long perception that grains and seeds can have an unappealing taste or texture is one of the key reasons why.”
By highlighting key drivers and barriers across different buying demographics, results uncovered the ideal loaf for grain ‘teetotallers’, the occasional fan or frequent buyers of breads packed with grains and seeds.
Puratos undertook the survey to identify a route for bakers looking to fill the gap for better-for-you breads that cater to non-buyers.
It also provides insight to help bakers wanting to diversify their offering to tantalise consumers who already have a taste for grains and seeds.
The perfect match
When it comes to the eating experience and nutrition, survey respondents pointed to the ‘sweet spot’ as a balanced taste, soft texture and a loaf that is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
‘Entry level’ (non-buyers) respondents were presented with two concepts: a 50/50 loaf with invisible grains and a 50/50 soft seeded loaf. The former was favoured as it was perceived to be novel and more appealing to families.
For occasional buyers, a wholemeal sourdough - lightly infused with grains and seeds to punch in the protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals - proved most popular.
Frequent buyers were quick to choose an artisan-style 6-seed wholemeal sourdough (the six seeds being pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, millet and poppy seeds). This coveted loaf came with claims of being high in protein, high in fibre and packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
“Nudge nutrition is one way to effectively overcome this hurdle,” added Ledger.
“As our research highlights, bakers can find success with the untapped non-buyer market by slowly adding or ‘topping up’ existing ‘white’ products with fibrous ingredients like grains and seeds.
“By taking this ‘blending’ approach, consumers gradually get used to more diverse breads with higher fibre content.”
Furthermore, he added, “grains and seeds infused with sourdough add enhanced taste, unique texture and the other benefits that sourdough provides to breads, such as better digestibility and storytelling opportunities.”
The top driver (74%) for purchasing breads that contain grains and seeds is that they are seen as healthy.
Other favoured benefits include good for gut health (58%) and high in fibre (57%).
Respondents also said they would be more encouraged to buy breads with grains and seeds if tastier high fibre options were available (46%) and more information was shared about the benefits (41%).
Cost was identified as the top barrier for purchasing breads with seeds and grains by 39% of the survey respondents.
However, health is more of a priority than price and 72% said they would pay more for bread with health and wellness benefits.
According to Ledger, when it comes to gaining ground in the grains and seeds bread category, manufacturers have one key leveraging tool - labelling.
“Getting the on-packaging messaging right can be essential to enhancing a product’s appeal and helping it stand out on the shelf,” he said.
“But the link between grains and seeds and health must be explicit to be effective.
“By explaining why they have been added to a product, and making clear the health benefits that it can bring and the taste and texture that can be expected, consumers can more easily digest the added value.”
Brussels-headquartered Puratos - which was founded in 1919 - is a mission to help customers to be successful with their business, by turning technologies and experiences gathered from food cultures around the world into new opportunities.
It does this through its extensive network of subsidiaries, partners and customers around the globe to identify the latest consumer trends at a very early stage - or even trigger them. The most immediate and targeted feedback comes from the Belgium company’s own collection of tools, including its Taste Tomorrow survey, Sensobus and its laboratory for Sensory Analysis.