Rising above with NPD: The new dough-mains of healthier bread

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/etiennevos
Pic: GettyImages/etiennevos

Related tags Bread Dough sourdough New product development

The humble staple has been a part of the fabric of life since the Neolithic era, rising to an everyday essential during the 19th Century with the advent of industrial milling processes. Fast forward a century and it was unfairly tarred with negative health implications that saw its rapid decline in popularity. This is changing.

Globally, consumers are hooked on white bread, which is often criticized for being nutritionally inferior to whole grain bread.​ It is also sometimes deemed a vessel of empty calories associated with issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes and classed under the controversial UPF (ultra processed foods) label​ because the initial raw ingredients have been industrially manipulated and additives, preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilizers added. The rise in awareness of gluten sensitivities and celiac disease, too, has seen its popularity plummet.

Global bread sales have been on a rollercoaster, but for the most part, have shown growth.

White bread Getty Kanur Ismail
Pic: GettyImages/Kanur Ismail

White bread remains the most eaten variant globally, with £876m ($1.11bn) worth of loaves sold in 2021, according to Mintel. Sliced white accounted for 71% of the UK’s bread consumption, so it was exciting news that scientists at Aberystwyth University are working on a healthier version.​ The gamechanger blend flour with nutritional powerhouses like peas or oats but maintains the fluffiness and neutral taste that consumers love.

Inflation saw retail value sales for bread and bread products soar to over £4.5bn ($5.74bn) in 2023, said Mintel. As this eases in 2024, the rate of growth will come down gradually, but a slight increase is forecast over the next five years to 2028.

The global bread market generated $0.50tn in revenue in 2024, according to Statista, with a CAGR of 6.37% forecast over the next four years. Volume is expected to clock in at around 216.70kg by 2028.

Revenue-wise, China dominated the lion’s share of the global bread market with $80bn, followed closely by India. However, according to Guinness World Records, Turkey has the largest per capita consumption of bread in the world as of 2000, with 199.6kg (440lb) per person.

In comparison, Statista reports the average volume per person is expected to amount to 24.8kg (54.61lb) in 2024.

In the US, the Hispanic bread subcategory notched up the most success, with a 17.5% rise, according to data from Circana for the past 52 weeks, ending March 24, 2024. The breads and rolls category punched in with a 4.9% increase to $19.8bn; sandwich saw a 4.3% uptick to $10.2bn; private label realized a 15.4% climb to $1.96bn in sales and the crusty/meal bread subcategory pulled in $408.9 with a 9.5% growth.

We take a look at some of the NPD that are disrupting the category.

Mulled Wine and Chestnut Bread from Bridor

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Mulled wine – which originated in Germany – is enjoyed the world over, particularly at Christmas markets and festive gatherings. As such, Bridor’s new offering – developed in collaboration with Maison Lenôtre – is designed to give caterers an innovative base for canapés for the festive period. The company also aims to provide foodservice providers with an opportunity to tap into the popularity of the flavor.

The bread comes pre-baked in a stone deck oven and contains:

  • Red wine (18%) gives the crumb a lovely pink color and refined aroma.
  • Chunks of chestnuts (10%) for a slightly crunchy texture.
  • ‘Mulled wine” spices (cinnamon, ginger and zesty spices) for the unmistakable flavor.

In a long, slender shape for slicing, each 130g loaf makes around 20 slices, one centimetre thick.

“Launching the new bread in partnership with the French patisserie house is testament to our commitment to delight caterers with distinctive and inspiring products,” said Erwan Inizan, UK sales director for Bridor.

Suitable for both sweet and savory toppings, Bridor EMEA executive chef Pierre Koch has provided some inspiration.

Duck foie gras toast with Berawecka-stye dried fruit chutney

For 20 toasts

  • Mulled Wine and Chestnut Loaf
  • 200g lightly cooked foie gras
  • Butter
  • For the chutney:
    • 100g figs, cut into pieces
    • 30g dried apricots, cut into pieces
    • 10g pistachios
    • 10g hazelnuts
    • 10g walnuts
    • 10g raw almonds
    • 20g butter
    • 10cl red wine
    • 1 cinnamon stick

Start with the chutney: Crush the nuts and roast in butter over a low heat. Add fruit, cook for 2 minutes, then deglaze with wine and pop in cinnamon stick. Simmer until you obtain a compote. Remove cinnamon and leave to cool.

Cut slices of bread, pipe on the dried fruit chutney and cover with a generous slice of foie gras.

Kids Bread, White and Multigrain Classic Bread and Rolls from Sola

Sola

The New York-based producer has expanded its range of chef-crafted, low-carb and low-sugar breads made from non-GMO ingredients without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Made for picky eaters and with convenience in mind, Sola’s Kids Bread ($5.64) contains zero sugar or added sweeteners and offers a full serving of fruits and veggies per two slices.

“We saw a massive area of opportunity within the bread category for a kid-specific product that is health-forward and free from sugar and sweeteners that still delivers the taste kids know and love,” said Sola president Kevin Brouillette.

“We’re proud to have created this innovative solution for families and hope this ignites change within the industry.”

Slightly larger than its existing offerings, the Classic Loaves ($4.98) – White and Multigrain – are loaded with 8g of fiber, punch in with only 50 calories and contain zero sugar or added sweeteners.

“The bread category hardly ever sees a sugar free, high fiber and low carb offering that tastes just as good,” said Brouillette.

“We’re extremely proud of our team who has been able to perfect a delicious line of classic breads, with a better nutrition content than any other bread loaf on the market.”

Also joining is a line of rolls ($4.98) in two flavors – Savory & Buttery and Sweet Hawaiian – set to redefine entertaining.

Available from H-E-B stores and online ($8.95).

High-protein rolls from Bertie’s Bakery

Nigel Dugan, Trading Controller, Henderson Wholesale and Founder of Bertie’s Bakery Brian McErlain
Nigel Dugan, trading controller, Henderson Wholesale and Bertie's founder Brian McErlain

The Londonderry-headquartered bakery has experienced strong growth in sales since it began listing with Henderson Group in 2020, expected to ramp up with the rollout of a new product line in over 80 stores across Northern Ireland.

“As consumer needs and wants evolve, we want to be at the forefront of that,” said Bertie’s founder Brian McErlain.

“Over 21% of the calorific content of our new rolls is protein, which allows them to be classified as high protein, and we expect them to be in strong demand when they go on sale”.

Added Henderson’s fresh foods director Neal Kelly, “Bertie’s is a local business with a long history in Northern Ireland and we are excited to be able to take this next step in our long-standing partnership by offering their new high protein rolls to Henderson customers.”

Bertie’s products – including scones, buns and cakes – are also available across 150 independent Spar, Eurospar and ViVO stores in Northern Ireland.

Your Davey Bread crowned Britain’s Best Loaf

BBL24_DigitalWinners Assets_1080x1080_BBL24_1080x1080_WINNER_Seeded Sourdough

The Berkshire, UK-based bakery has scooped up the coveted title – awarded by Bakery&Snacks’ sister publication  British Baker – for its seeded sourdough made using Matthews Cotswold Flour’s award-winning Cotswold Crunch.

“I’m relatively new to baking, I started in the pandemic when working from home and a neighbor offered me some sourdough starter,” said founder Dave de la Riviere.

“In January 2023, I opened Your Davey Bread, offering pre-order and pickup of sourdough loaves from our front porch. We now do village markets, fetes and supply the local tearoom in Riseley, in addition to our pre-order business.”

The prize-winning loaf, called Uncle Tom Cobbler N’all, is created “using cobbler/malted flour, the ‘n’all’ element originally covered any ingredients I needed to use up,” said de la Riviere.

“I experimented with adding various percentages of malted flour to my standard country loaf, until we hit the sweet spot of taste and texture. This also took a few experiments with the hydration level of the dough. The dough is covered in poppy seeds and semolina to give the crust some more crunch.”

He noted ‘the right flour is obviously critical’ and decided on Cotswold Crunch “because it has a great aroma when baked and is easy to incorporate into a recipe. The malted wheat flakes give a little welcome bite and texture.”

Matthews Cotswold Flour – a 200-year-old family business – is a leading speciality flour producer boasting a range of over 100 varieties of flour for both amateur and professional bakers.

 “I’m so proud my Seeded Sourdough won its category against tough and established competition. There is an element of disbelief for me, as I’m a micro baker, one guy in his back room with a small mixer and a small oven.”

High protein wheat flour from GoodMills Innovation

SmartWheat

Fluctuating protein content in wheat flour makes standardized baking processes particularly difficult, impacting water absorption, dough processing and baked product quality.

However, the Hamburg-based ingredients provider has developed a solution that compensates for quality fluctuations.

Smart Wheat is obtained from protein-rich, high-stretch wheat through purely physical fractionation. Unlike commercially available wheat gluten, the company doesn’t use water for rinsing or high temperatures during production, rather its finely ground using a gentle crushing process before separating the highly active, native protein particles to preserve its natural functionality.

The native protein it contains enables the gluten network to form more quickly, resulting in easy-to-work, fluffy doughs.

Available in both conventional and organic quality, the recommended dosage ranges between 2% and 10%, depending on the product type – anything from small wheat to multigrain and wholemeal baked goods to yeast doughs and Berliners.

Naan Bites from Baked Earth Bakery

Baked Earth Bakery garlic and coriander naan bites available in Asda

“We believe we are the first to market with these delicious and versatile naan bites, which are mini versions of our popular naan breads,” said MD Dan Butt, noting packs of 20 bites are rolling out in Asda stores across the UK.

Used for dipping, as a side or served in a big bowl for sharing, the bites are suitable for vegans, take 2-3 minutes to bake and are suitable for home freezing.

The Butt family is a fourth generation family that has been baking authentic naans and flatbreads since the early 1970s – originally from a small restaurant (Nottingham’s first curry house) and moving to a purposely designed factory using bespoke ovens that replicate a Tandoor in 1990. The company has grown to become a leading producer of naans and flatbreads, supplying to the retail and food service sectors.

Gluten Free Soft Pittas from Warburtons

Warburtons

The Gluten Free variants deliver on the same quality expected from Warburtons, with a soft, fluffy texture and authentic taste. They can be warmed in the toaster, or enjoyed cold, creating a convenient and versatile accompaniment to any meal.

With sandwich alternatives increasingly inhibiting category growth (-200k units / -10.1% vs LY), the launch aims to reinvigorate the struggling but important segment of the Free From Bakery category. As well as being gluten-, wheat- and milk-free, the Pittas are high in calcium, a great source of fiber and are Coeliac UK certified (baked at Warburtons’ dedicated Gluten Free bakery in Newburn).

“Innovation is critical to the growth of the free from category and to help meet what can often be an uncatered need for many,” said chairman Jonathan Warburton.

“This is why we are investing significantly over the next three years in our Gluten Free range to grow, evolve and meet ongoing demand to introduce versatile and convenient free-from products.”

The Soft Pittas are available from leading UK retailers – Sainsbury’s, Asda, Ocado, Tesco, Morrisons and Co-op – for an RRP of £3 for a 4-pack.

Jason’s Sourdough High Protein Loaf

Jason's

The new loaf from UK-based Geary’s Bakery will give macro counting consumers more protein (10g per slice, compared to 5g per slice of the White Ciabattin loaf) and lower carbohydrates (12.9g compared to 23g in the White Ciabattin loaf). The additional protein boost comes from wheat protein, pea protein and sunflower seeds. Made from simple, clean ingredients, it doesn’t contain additives, preservatives, emulsifiers, added sugar or artificial sweeteners.

“As with everything in our Jason’s Sourdough range, the High Protein Loaf stays true to our philosophy of using our own sourdough mother starter culture and simple ingredients to deliver a great-tasting loaf that consumers can enjoy every day,” said master baker Jasson Geary.

“We know that people love our sourdough as part of their healthy eating routines. Our new protein loaf gives shoppers a great opportunity to get more protein into their everyday diets, whilst still enjoying a great slice of sourdough.”

Available exclusively in selected Tesco stores nationwide.

Sourdough classes

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Puratos has opened a unique hub to celebrate the art, science and potential of sourdough.

Through a combination of masterclasses,​ online events, research and its one-of-a-kind library, the Sourdough Institute in Sankt Vith, Belgium, aims to ‘protect, research and inspire’ the legacy.

With 153 sourdoughs stored inhouse, the Sourdough Library ensures the biodiversity of strains for future generations. It also has a vast analytical capability – where more than 1,500 strains have already been isolated – to better understand the fermentation process in the pursuit of better tasting, healthier sourdough products.

The Institute is also designed to inspire bakers in the art of sourdough. Led by passionate sourdough librarian Karl de Smedt and bakery experts, hands-on classes will share best practice tips, techniques and recipes, as well as the science behind sourdough and its contribution to health and wellbeing.

Scientific research is also at the heart of the facility to uncover more about the benefits and potential applications of sourdough, such as the predictive model to uncover digestibility score, sustainable credentials, flavor and shelf life markers to help bakers improve the taste, health profile and sustainability of their creations.

“Puratos’ history with sourdough dates as far back as the 1980s, “ said de Smedt.

“Now there is a huge appetite for all things sourdough – although unbelievably, research on sourdough is still in relative infancy. Since every sourdough is unique, it’s even more important that we improve our collective knowledge in this area.”

Another pioneer to share its expert knowledge in this area is e5 Bakehouse.

Founded in 2010 and claiming to be London’s first independent bakery to champion artisanal baking and heritage grain, the bakery has built a sustainable, inclusive business incorporating two bakeries, a farm, a mill, coffee roastery, baking classes and events. Regular events such as supper clubs, panel discussions and community outreach – which includes a refugee program – provides connection and education.

Sustainability is at the core of e5’s principles, having developed a closed-loop business model with a farm to table approach. The e5 Bakehouse today produces an average of 500kg of bread daily for wholesale and its cafes and shops.

To keep up with demand, it installed a mill in 2013, meaning it could also control how the flour was milled and where it was sourced. The Astrié mill is essential for cold extraction of flour causing minimal damage to the vitamins and essential oils present in grains.

A year later followed the acquisition of Fellows Farm, primarily to grow heritage grain to make flour. It follows regenerative farming methods to boost soil fertility (certified organic by the Soil Association) and now also produces fruit and veggies.

Take your toasted wrap to a new level

Crimpit

The CRIMPiT is responding to consumer demand with an even more popular product: the CRIMPiT Wrap (patent pending).

Founders Mike Harper and Ian Critchlow saw their unique toastie device take the UK by storm last year, thanks to its simple effectiveness at creating healthy and quick toasties.

Equally simple to use, the Wrap – which secured listings in Lakeland, Robert Dyas and Oliver Bonas – does what it says and helps people to create wraps without mess. According to the founders, it’s garnered a huge following on social media, pulled in celeb endorsements and boosted the company’s growth by 300% y-o-y.

The Wrap is now launching in the US. It has an RRP in the UK of £14.99.

“Our customers are incredibly engaged with the brand and the toastie tool was very popular, but the recurring message from our customers was to invent a gadget that could be used with wraps,” said Harper.

“The main issue with making wraps at home is the mess, as people struggle to fold and hold them effectively. We realized this was a genuine consumer need, so set to work to tackle the problem.”

The company supports the Trussell Trust with monies from every sale and has raised over £45,000 to-date. The founders are also working closely with UK food waste companies to grow and develop their proposition.

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