Clean labels add sales appeal
Natural and healthful ingredients give bakers label-friendly options.
In today's competitive world, a clean label gives bakers an edge. More consumers regularly scan labels to see what ingredients products contain before they buy them. Several different types of ingredients contribute to a clean label and give consumers the perception of a premium, value-added product.
Photo courtesy of Caravan Ingredients
All-natural and/or organic items, such as real fruit pieces, fruit juices, nuts and seeds, whole grains and functional ingredients, help a product stand out for its wholesomeness and also can offer improved flavor. Creating baked products without trans fats also is perceived as more healthful. Such ingredient labels for cookies and breads will read better to consumers because they won't appear as a lengthy listing of unknown chemicals.
While staying ahead of the competition is never easy, especially in niche markets, having an active new product development department focused on exceeding customer expectations is key to success. “Creating a variety of artisan breads with cleaner labels offers health benefits to the consumer, as well as an added bonus of improved product processing,” says Dennis Rossetti, president, Italian Home Bakery Ltd., Ontario, Canada.
Typically, breads contain whole wheat flour, but after the milling process, the nutritious bran and germ are stripped away. The bran is reconstituted to an average percentage found in whole wheat, but the germ is not added back because it is susceptible to rancidity and would shorten shelf life. However, the use of whole grains is preferred for added health benefits, and the USDA pyramid now recommends at least 3 oz. of whole grains be consumed each day. “Ancient whole grains, such as spelt, kamut and quinoa, can be used to replace refined wheat flour up to 50 percent and have the added benefit of being less allergenic,” Rossetti notes.
Other terms that enhance a bread's clean label and image include multigrain and organic. However, some organic ingredients are expensive or difficult to obtain in a timely fashion. “Organic raisins have been notoriously difficult to source, so long lead times need to be built into the product development process to ensure that our company is ahead of the game,” says Chelle Blaszczyk, marketing director, Natural Ovens Bakery, Manitowoc, Wis.
While it can be challenging to change an existing ingredient label and remove artificial dough conditioners, such as sodium stearoyl lactylate, ADA or DATEM, it can be done without compromising product quality. “Proprietary enzyme technology can replace these artificial chemicals and actually improve artisan bread appearance by allowing the generation of characteristic outer-surface blistering,” Rossetti adds.
Ascorbic acid also serves as a dough conditioner, providing strength and height to baked products; and even though the source of vitamin C is synthetic, this ingredient has a positive perception among consumers as being all-natural. “While there is not always a clear cut line of distinction between what ingredients constitute a ‘clean label,’ the shorter the list the better,” Blaszczyk notes.
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