Go back 20 years and ask consumers if they want ingredients they can’t pronounce, and the answer probably would have been, “No.” Back then, however, no one was asking that question; back then, there were no such things as food blogs. But with today’s digital technology delivering information instantaneously, consumers’ thirst for knowledge about the foods they’re eating is growing almost as quickly as the information is being disseminated.

Just look at how food blogger Vani Hari, a.k.a. “Food Babe” and founder of www.foodbabe.com, affected Subway’s decision to move away from azodicarbonamide (ADA), then used in the company’s frozen doughs.

To keep up with increasing demand for clean-label products, bakers must learn to rapidly adapt their product lines. “The trend toward clean label is not a new phenomenon, but the pace of this change has certainly picked up over the past year or so,” said Denis Wellington, president and CEO of BreadPartners, Inc., Cinnaminson, NJ. 

In an effort to help bakers keep up with change, especially in regard to ADA, BreadPartners now offers ADA-free versions of its formulations, including its line of artisan bases. “We started this process about a month ago,” Mr. Wellington said, noting that customers have the option of bases with or without ADA. Manipulation of the oxidation and enzyme systems enabled BreadPartners to quickly adapt to requests for ADA-free bases.

When it comes to artisan breads, consumers seem to want it all: artisan style that is also consistent and clean-label … and oh yes, with a long shelf life. “There is a trend toward what we call ‘clean label variety and artisan breads,’ ” Mr. Wellington said. Because variety and artisan breads can contain up to 30 ingredients, it can be difficult for a wholesale baker to purchase and stock all the necessary ingredients, especially when amounts can vary significantly from product to product, not to mention their differing reactions to ambient temperatures.

“A base that contains a blend of all the necessary ingredients simplifies and speeds up the process for the baker while at the same time ensuring uniformity and consistency on a daily basis,” Mr. Wellington explained.

Speeding up the process is of the utmost importance in responding to constantly — and at times instantaneously — changing consumer desires. “We were amazed at the reaction from some of our wholesale bakery customers to the publicity surrounding ADA,” Mr. Wellington said. “This was almost entirely due to reactions of their own customers, especially supermarkets, who were put under enormous pressure to eliminate any baked products containing ADA from their in-store ­operations almost overnight.”

BreadPartners started offering ADA-free versions within a space of about two weeks, according to Mr. Wellington, and while not every customer has requested ADA-free bases, those who did provided positive feedback. Learn more about BreadPartners’ artisan bases and other products by visiting www.breadpartners.com.