While the history of yeast may go back at least thousands of years to ancient Egypt, its innovations in the grain-based foods industry continue forward in the 21st century. Recent developments include improvements in instant yeast, improved consistency from batch to batch and vitamin D fortification.

Lesaffre Yeast Corp., Milwaukee, WI, recently introduced SAF-instant premium yeast, a granular free-flowing yeast. Dry yeast generally is sensitive to cold water, which is needed when making products such as Danish, said Arnaud Deniaud, director of technical services and new product development in the US and Canada for Lesaffre Yeast Corp. and Red Star Yeast Co.

“Cold water works fine for fresh yeast,” Mr. Deniaud said, adding that SAF-instant premium yeast, in contrast to other dry yeasts, also works well with cold water. Potential applications include bagels, baguettes, crackers, croissants, donuts, English muffi ns, flatbreads, hearth breads, pan breads and pizza crusts. This yeast also suits use by smaller bakeries making frozen doughs that must be kept available for several days.

While SAF-instant premium yeast is available in the US, Lesaffre is examining the possibility of manufacturing it in Europe, selling it in Western Europe and exporting it to Africa, Mr. Deniaud said.

The instant yeast provides several advantages, including 15 to 30% shorter proofing times, larger volumes for finished products and up to 30% reduction in dry yeast use in most formulations, according to Lesaffre. Compared with standard dry yeast, SAF-instant premium yeast performs up to 30% better in colder doughs and better overall in formulas containing low amounts of preservatives, according to the company.

ADAPTING TO CHANGES. Current production practices have considerably shortened processing times, but bakers still should pay attention to several factors involving yeast performance, said Paul Bright, product development manager for AB Mauri Fleischmann’s, Chesterfield, MO.

“When saving time, it is important for bakers to consider that many of the bread flavors and aromas are a result of yeast fermentation,” Mr. Bright noted. The trend away from longer sponge-and-dough methods to shorter no-time doughs results in a reduction in full-fermentation flavors. “Despite higher levels of yeast usage in no-time dough, the flavor and aroma attributes are not always fully developed during this quick fermentation,” he explained.

The sugar content of formulations also makes a difference in yeast performance. Fleischmann’s Yeast recently introduced Baker’s Select, a 1-lb fresh yeast block that provides consistent yeast performance in low-sugar and high-sugar yeastleavened baked foods.

“Compared with traditional compressed yeast, Baker’s Select has better keeping qualities in higher storage temperatures and superior activity throughout the shelf life of the product,” Mr. Bright said. Also, the manufacturer provides nutrition facts and individual lot numbers on each block, thus enhancing traceability — the first block yeast on the market to do so, he added.

Changes in the market also provide opportunities for yeast products. The increasing popularity of flatbreads and pizza has attracted the attention of AB Mauri Fleischmann’s as the company seeks to expand its yeast portfolio.

“Currently, the consumer version of Fleischmann’s Yeast offers a pizza crust yeast — a dry yeast that helps the dough’s flexibility and ease of use,” Mr. Bright said. “We are exploring making this product available in our new Baker’s Best portfolio, which is a special line of ingredients for medium-sized to small retail bakeries.”

ADDITIONAL NUTRIENTS. Fortification of grain-based foods is the focus of Eagle VitaD yeast from American Yeast, the Memphis, TN-based division of Lallemand, Inc., Montreal, QC. Recent research confirms consumer interest in such fortification.

According to a survey conducted by Angus Reid Strategies for Lallemand during the first week of September 2009, 44% of American consumers, up from 37% last year, believed vitamin D plays a great role in maintaining or improving their health. Of the survey respondents, 79% believed vitamin D plays a great or moderate role.

The most common health benefits respondents cited as associated with vitamin D were protection against osteoporosis and fracture risk (46%), cardiovascular disease (19%) and cancer (18%). The most common food sources they associated with vitamin D were milk (74%), followed by yogurt (40%), orange juice (21%) and cereals (18%). Only 10% thought of bread as a source of vitamin D. According to a survey by Mintel, the Chicago, IL-based consumer research specialist, less than 2% of bread products in the US are fortified with vitamin D.

“Bread is a staple food consumed daily, and yeast is a key ingredient in the production of bread,” said Jean Chagnon, c.e.o. of Lallemand. “Results from a recent study from the University of Helsinki confirmed that bread baked with Lallemand’s vitamin D yeast had the same effect on vitamin D serum levels in humans as vitamin D supplements. Bakers using our yeast, therefore, have a head start in helping meet this important dietary requirement.”

According to Lallemand, bakers yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) produces ergosterol, the precursor of vitamin D, and is a source for manufacturing vitamin D dietary supplements. Lallemand/American Yeast developed a patent-pending process that boosts the natural content of vitamin D in bakers yeast while keeping its leavening and flavor contributions intact. US regulations currently allow 90 international units (IU) of vitamin D per 100 g of baked foods. The Federal Register on Dec. 17, 2009, carried a food additive petition from Lallemand to amend the food additive regulations to permit use of vitamin D2 yeast at up to 400 IU per 100 g of yeast-raised baked foods. If the petition is approved, bakers will have the opportunity to achieve the vitamin D levels necessary to make “good” or “excellent” source claims, according to Lallemand.

Each yeast-raised product formula uses different levels of yeast. “Since the vitamin D content of Lallemand’s yeast is at a standard level, the bakery that wishes to label the vitamin D content of its products can easily calculate the resulting level of vitamin D for each formula,” Lallemand said. “This is the same for all other nutritional values on the label. Lallemand offers an Excel calculator for this purpose.”

Lesaffre is working on vitamin D inclusion and, in the future, may offer inactive yeast with vitamin D, Mr. Deniaud said. This form would allow food processors to use the yeast for its vitamin D content in products that do not require fermentation.

BETTER METHODS. Control and consistency are benefits associated with yeast made solely with corn sugar at a Lesaffre plant in Cedar Rapids, IA.

“Our goal is to make a very, very consistent product for bakers,” Mr. Deniaud said. Yeast is normally manufactured through fermentation fueled by a blend of cane molasses, beet molasses and corn sugar, he explained. It took Lesaffre about 10 years of research to develop a consistent substrate in corn sugar.

Mary Cantaberry, director of sales and marketing, US and Canada bakery, Lesaffre and Red Star Yeast, said with substrate blends, bakers may not have the same vitamins and minerals every single time. “With corn sugar, it’s exactly the same every single time,” she said. “The quality and consistency of the yeast is far better.”

LABEL MATTERS. Bakers may use yeast to capitalize on several other new product developments, according to Mr. Bright. “These trends include using label-friendly, health-oriented, natural ingredients; improvements in processing performance; and reduced costs,” he said.

Creating products with simple label declarations is another advantage with yeast. “Consumers recognize yeast as a wholesome, traditional product,” Mr. Bright said.

Personnel from Fleischmann’s Yeast and AB Mauri often work together for yeast innovation. “We collaborate with bakery scientists across the global network of our parent company, AB Mauri, and some of our most recent technical development projects have looked at yeast propagation to enhance yeast gassing activity in a wide range of sugar levels as well as in the presence of higher levels of mold inhibitors,” Mr. Bright explained. “This type of research benefits bakeries because use of mold inhibition is increasing across the industry as bakers increasingly desire to extend baked product shelf life.

“At AB Mauri Fleischmann’s, we want to make sure that our Fleischmann’s yeast products and our mold inhibitors under our AB Mauri Bakery Ingredients line work well together,” he said.


Benefits Sought
The 2009 survey conducted by Angus Reid Strategies (now Vision Critical), a Vancouver, BC-based research firm, probed values that American and Canadian consumers seek in their food choices as well as their awareness of vitamin content. Researchers found that 35% of Americans said vitamin fortification was an important factor when purchasing bread. Vitamin-fortified, as a product benefit, ranked behind taste (78%), price (77%), natural ingredients (53%), fiber content (52%) and good with other foods (39%). Vitamin-fortified ranked ahead of convenience (33%), low-fat content (30%), low in sodium (24%), no added sugar (23%), number of vitamins (23%), fights heart disease (18%), certified-vegetarian (4%) and other (11%).


Yeast is Yeast -- Not!
Although some bakers tend to think“yeast is yeast,” it is not. Different yeasts perform differently in different systems, advised Ric Mercuri, National Yeast LLC, Milwaukee, WI, and St. Louis, MO.“We try to set ourselves apart by finding the right fit between yeast and customer,”he explained.

Bakers often require diverse qualities in their yeast supplies.“For example, we designed yeasts to perform in frozen doughs or in high-sugar systems like sweet goods as well as conventional pan bread and buns,”Mr. Mercuri said. The company’s yeast manufacturing partners are Minn-Dak Yeast, Wahpeton, ND, and USA Yeast, Hattiesburg, MS.

The yeast market is very competitive.“You have to demonstrate your [product’s] benefits to the bakers,”he observed. Typically, this is done by analyzing samples side by side in specific baked foods.

Service is another important factor.“First of all, the yeast must be a quality product. It cannot cause or contribute to problems,”Mr. Mercuri said.“You have to put service behind the yeast. The key for bakers is to work with their yeast suppliers in the context of their bakeries’specific needs.”