KANSAS CITY — In the United States, most consumers choose sliced, wrapped bread from the supermarket. The longer a loaf stays soft and succulent, the more likely it is to be bought, so anti-staling is increasingly becoming a topic in the production process, too. The latest generation of enzyme systems can keep bakery products fresh significantly longer — not only increasing their enjoyment value, but also improving their cost-effectiveness and reducing their environmental impact.
Most U.S. consumers have a clear idea of what their bread should be like: wrapped, sliced, with a high volume and a soft crumb. Bread is bought during the weekly shopping expedition to the supermarket; artisan bakeries play only a subordinate role in the United States.
Large retail chains stock a selection of more than 50 varieties. Besides the classic type made from light-colored wheat flour there are sliced loaves containing rye or wholemeal flour, with grains and seeds, with sour dough, with dietary fibers or oatmeal, in “farmhouse style,” as low-carb or fat-free variants, and many other varieties.
Bread consumption in the United States is currently declining slightly because of a change in eating habits, but bread is still an important staple food that is usually eaten toasted or as a filled sandwich.
Long shelf life urged
There is a great demand in the food trade for loaves with an extremely long shelf life. As a result of hygiene measures, customers can still buy a quality loaf with pleasant freshness and elasticity even days after its production. So the service interval for the shelves can be extended and the return of stale goods reduced. This helps to increase a company’s profitability and improve its sustainability balance.
In the consumers’ homes, it generally takes several days for an opened pack to be used up, so the microbiological and structural stability of the goods is an important quality attribute. However, as far as the fresh keeping is concerned, the right mouthfeel has now become an additional criterion, besides the elasticity and the structure of the crumb. Sensory deficits are no longer accepted. U.S. customers expect the enjoyment value of their favorite bread to remain unchanged for as long as possible.