Plant-based proteins will continue to be incorporated into products in 2018.

Staying on the cutting-edge of consumer demands can be hard in an industry steeped in tradition. However, in the past few years, many baking and snack manufacturers have realized they can’t wait for trends to play out. They must actively pursue developing markets to stay relevant with consumers. 

The past year found many manufacturers unveiling more clean label products and adapting quicker to consumer trends. The year ahead will demand the same rigorous reflection and product development if bakers want to keep consumers interested in their offerings.

Baking & Snack recently asked industry experts, “What will characterize the next 12 months in bakery formulating?” Read on to learn what trends and changes they think will shape the industry. 

Donna Berry, contributing editor, Baking & Snack
Donna Berry, contributing editor, Baking & Snack:
"Like most of the food industry, bakers are faced with the challenge of staying relevant to today’s younger consumers, who shop, cook and eat differently than previous generations. As much as clean and simple recipes are important, so is the story behind the ingredients, the recipe and the company. Sharing even one special quality about a product may be enough to grab a shopper’s attention. Maybe it’s a chocolate cake made with sustainably sourced cocoa or whole grain bagels made with free-range eggs. 

Consumers increasingly want to know more about their food. This includes where ingredients come from. It is paramount to work with ingredient suppliers who are either vertically integrated or can provide sourcing details throughout the supply chain. Communicating this to consumers engages them and that’s how bakers stay relevant."

Len Heflich, president, The Center for Food Integrity, and Baking & Snack contributing editor
Len Heflich, president, The Center for Food Integrity, and Baking & Snack contributing editor: 
"In 2018 the baking industry will see further development of three trends. Consumers’ desire for clean labels is driving reformulation of products to remove as many ingredients as possible, especially anything that sounds artificial or like a preservative. The industry has eliminated partially hydrogenated fats. Now comes emulsifiers, preservatives and dough conditioners. This is a logical extension and companion to the “free-from” marketing that has swept the industry in the past few years; G.M.O.-free is next.

We will see continued proliferation of product lines that includes different sizes, shapes, flavors and organic. Can you remember a time when Oreos came in two flavors? Ha! 

In addition, artisan baked goods will also continue to develop as the large baking companies find ways to bring artisan characteristics to their product lines."

David Busken, principle, Bakery Development Ltd
David Busken, principle, Bakery Development Ltd:
"I suspect the big trends in formulating for 2018 will be more products containing higher levels of protein.
The challenge will be making them appetizing. Finding the right protein will be the first challenge. Many proteins, especially the plant proteins, absorb a lot of water. This water needs to be baked out so as not to have a product with too high of a water activity level. When baked and becoming denatured, protein raises the amount of moisture in the product. The products, even though high in moisture, become very dry in texture. This will be the big formulating challenge.

As science begins to understand the value of antioxidants’ role in keeping consumers healthy, the marketplace may present another challenge to formulators: making baked goods high in various antioxidants. The challenge here will be finding antioxidants that are heat-stable. Many suppliers of ingredients containing antioxidants don't even know how bake-stable they are."

Bill Gilbert, certified master baker, principal food technologist, Cargill
Bill Gilbert, certified master baker, principal food technologist, Cargill:
"The bakery industry faces some tough questions in 2018 and beyond. What do we need to do for clean label? What should we do for sugar reduction? How can we grow sales through innovation?  

Some of the answers are already in process. Bread bakers have been working toward clean label products for a couple years, with lecithin and enzymes able to fully replace all the components of the dough conditioners. On the innovation front, bread bakers are looking for ways to grow a stagnant market by launching products like low-calorie bread or adding additional health claims like protein to their label. Development work will continue throughout 2018 as the underlying truth remains: Bread is good for you.

Even indulgent, sweet snacks will see changes ahead. While “don’t mess with my treats” is a phrase I hear all the time, they’re not immune to consumers’ clean label desires. Bakers are already asking for label-friendly emulsifiers and shorter ingredient decks.  

I also expect sugar reduction will get a lot more attention in 2018. Already the No. 1 area of focus in all other parts of the world, U.S. bakers will be working to have reduced-sugar solutions ready-to-go in anticipation of the new Food and Drug Administration nutrition facts labeling rules. Beyond clean label and sugar reduction, growth in the snacking space will come from line extensions capitalizing on brand recognition."

Paul Verderber, vice-president of sales, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Inc.
Paul Verderber, vice-president of sales, Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients, Inc.:
"Trends in bread are currently and will continue to be all about health, as brands try to combat the perception of bread and other baked goods as purely indulgent products with little or no nutritional value. Demand is growing for higher-fiber items, whole grain products and items with superfood inclusions. Gluten-free or non-G.M.O. options also continue to excite consumers. Our Carolina Craft sweet potato flour is seeing strong interest due to its potential to support these health-focused products in the retail space. 
 
Shoppers also are interested in unique ingredients in unexpected places — especially ingredients that offer nutritive benefits. Our sweet potato ingredients fall right in line with that trend. Sweet potatoes are so popular with consumers, why not include them in baked goods? With its fiber, beta-carotene, and other nutritive advantages, Carolina Craft and Carolina Original support efforts at improving nutritional profiles of bread and other baked goods, while retaining great taste and appearance."

Theresa Cogswell, director of innovation, Bakery, Corbion
Theresa Cogswell, director of innovation, Bakery, Corbion:
"Looking ahead to 2018, Corbion will remain dedicated to providing our customers with multifunctional solutions designed to address their specific formulation and application needs. To produce consistent and reliable products, bakery manufacturers rely on dough conditioners and solutions that extend shelf life, and we will continue to meet this need in the years ahead. As the push for simplified ingredients continues to rise, we will use our creative agility and problem-solving skills to deliver industry-leading tools and resources that help our customers meet the growing demand while improving their bottom line."

Matt Patrick, director of research and development, Delavau Food Partners:
"I believe greater interest in bread as a source of nutrition will shape formulating in 2018. Though gluten-free and low-carb trends have threatened the baking industry, over the next 12 months consumers will continue to rediscover that bread can be a source of good nutrition, whether through whole grains or formulas fortified with calcium or other vitamins and minerals. Though it was once widespread for consumers to suppress their consumption of baked goods for health reasons, over the past year we have seen more discussion about healthier bread options, especially bread fortified with calcium, and we expect that trend to continue."

Courtney Schumacher, marketing specialist, Bakery, Kerry
Courtney Schumacher, marketing specialist, Bakery, Kerry:
"Looking at the next 12 months in the bakery industry, formulations will continue to push toward achieving cleaner labels. As consumers become increasingly aware of what goes into their bakery products, they will continue to want ingredients deemed as “unfriendly” removed. Looking specifically at the bread category, the top five ingredients that consumers prefer not to consume include: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, cellulose, phosphates and mono/diglycerides, according to Kerry Proprietary Consumer Research, 2017. As some of these ingredients provide key functional benefits, it will be important for bakers to work with their suppliers to remove these ingredients while keeping the same great taste and nutrition consumers expect."

Michael Buttshaw, vice-president of ingredients sales and marketing, MGP Ingredients
Michael Buttshaw, vice-president of ingredients sales and marketing and Ody Maningat, Ph.D., vice-president of R.&D. and chief science officer, MGP Ingredients:
"MGP’s food ingredients team believes the following changes and trends will be key drivers in the baking industry in 2018. There will be a continued heightened demand for non-G.M.O., clean label, organic and sustainably-sourced products. Nutritious baked goods, such as high-fiber and low-calorie bread, seeded bread, in moderation, and baked snacks with higher protein levels will also remain popular. 

Ody Maningat, Ph.D., vice-president of R.&D. and chief science officer, MGP Ingredients

In addition, we anticipate an increased focus being placed on smaller portions sizes for indulgent products, a greater inclusion of plant-based proteins and the rise of “farm-to-table” concepts. We also believe the industry will prioritize raw material and ingredient traceability while also concentrating on reducing costs in formulations."

 

Jamie Wilson, director, marketing and culinary, Parker Products
Jamie Wilson, director, marketing and culinary, Parker Products:
"In the wake of the gluten-free and low-carb trends, baked goods are seen as more of an indulgence. Though there are challenges that come along with that, brands also have an opportunity to capture consumers’ attention when they seek indulgence by promoting new products centered around a delightful experience. These could include playful, fun products featuring bright colors and unusual concepts, such as we’ve seen already with the rainbow bagel and similar applications. It might also include the growth of sophisticated culinary trends featuring salt, smoke or tart flavors. In another twelve months, we expect to see greater diversity of flavors and formats in the industry, especially surrounding playful, indulgent products."