One of the lead drivers among retailers and producers of bakery products is ‘clean label’. Similarly hot topics are ‘natural’ and ‘organic ’. These stem largely from consumer demand. Developed markets, including Western Europe, have created a culture of label checking where their food is concerned. Consumers want to ensure that their food is as nutritious and delicious as possible, with as few E-numbers and ‘chemical’ additives as possible.
The challenge put to bakeries today is to meet the demand for clean label products. Alternatives need to be identified for the additives that are used in bakery products. The challenge is to find a replacement ingredient that will work just as well as the former ‘standard’ ingredient. Extensive testing is required to ensure that product properties are not impacted by this change.
It was once thought that clean label was merely a trend that would pass in time. That is not the case. Clean label requirements, often formulated in ‘ingredient policies’, are here to stay and will continue to grow in importance. But what will the new ‘standard’ be? What if functionality, taste, price or freshness of bakery products is influenced by excluding technologically ‘functional’ additives?
At the moment, each retailer has its own guidelines for what makes a product ‘clean’. The term ‘natural’ is open to interpretation. However, there is a regulated EU definition and certification system for ‘organic’ ingredients and products.
In order to stay on-trend and satisfy consumers, baking innovation will need to take a front seat. Products must be critically reviewed and reformulated using new clean, natural and in some cases organic ingredients. At the same time, bakery producers must stay rational and realistic in this matter. An important part of the answer lies in using innovative ingredients that will deliver the same functionality that both bakers and retailers have come to trust.