American diets need improvement to keep up with healthy lifestyles and meet needs of all life stages.

DENVER — American diets need improvement to keep up with healthy lifestyles and meet needs of all life stages, said Sam Wright IV, chief executive officer of The Wright Group. He discusses the reasons behind these trends and the nutrients that can help in this exclusive Q&A with Baking & Snack.

Baking & Snack: Among your fortification and enrichment ingredients, which are attracting the most interest from bakery formulators right now

Sam Wright IV: In the baking sector, there is rising interest in vitamin D, magnesium, potassium and B-vitamins, generally, especially folic acid and vitamin B-12. Bake-stable ascorbic acid is also gaining traction as a functional additive in replacing bromate and ADA.

In the snack sector, bars, in particular, are being positioned as mini-meals with a full array of fortificants, even beyond standard vitamins and minerals. Depending on the target segment our customers are trying to reach, we are seeing rising interest in fish oil and joint health ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM. We are also seeing energy- and mood-elevating ingredients such as caffeine, guarana and green tea. These healthy snack products are looking more and more like dietary supplements in terms of their fortification package.

What do your customers tell you about their reasons for seeking such nutritional additions to their products?

Our customers are trying to keep abreast of the science behind supplementary nutrition and are largely responding to what their customers are demanding in this age of increasing scientific validity, an aging population trying to stay healthy and rising health care costs. Food is being looked at as medicine by many consumers, and companies are working to deliver these higher-level health benefits beyond satisfying hunger.

Millennials, in particular, look upon snack bars as an integral part of their dietary regimen to support their mobile, active lifestyle.

What aspects of the North American diet set the stage for fortification that moves beyond conventional enrichment?

The North American diet is in need of improvement, especially as our lifestyles become more hectic. A family sitting around a table even once a day for dinner has become a relic of an earlier, simpler era. Most households have two working adults or single parents. Everyone is busier, especially kids. There is heavy reliance on fast foods and quick to prepare processed foods that are often heavy in sodium, sugars and saturated fats and deficient in micronutrients. This can be addressed by incorporating needed vitamins, minerals and other ingredients into foods and beverages that kids and active adults prefer.

As the population ages, there is a drastic increase in the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other markers of heart disease in particular. Consumers are looking for ways to become more active, consume a healthier diet and try to stay out of our health care system to the extent possible. Bakery and especially snack products are important options for these consumers to consider.

What advice can you give to a formulator who’s considering such fortification strategies for the first time?

Our advice would be to seek out suppliers like The Wright Group who can keep them abreast of what is going on in the marketplace.

Formulators should also spend more time interacting with their own sales and marketing people who spend the bulk of their time with customers. Listening to customers is the most important thing any company should do in order to be successful.