September may have been Whole Grains Month, but for the baking industry it just as easily may have been called Bread Benefit Month, as several of the nation’s largest baking companies launched new bread lines featuring a range of functional ingredients.

Kicking off the innovation, The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, followed the 2007 launch of Kroger’s Active Lifestyle fat-free milk with CoroWise cholesterol reducers by introducing a new line of bread featuring the CoroWise Naturally Sourced Cholesterol Reducer brand of plant sterols from Minneapolis-based Cargill.

The following day, George Weston Bakeries, Inc., Toronto, introduced new Arnold and Brownberry bread varieties featuring Heart Choice natural plant sterols from Cognis Nutrition & Health, La Grange, Ill. Plant sterols have been shown to reduce cholesterol.

Grains & More Double Oat Hearty Oatmeal bread was formulated to promote heart health and contains 0.4 grams of Cognis’ Heart Choice plant sterols.

The company said the new bread will feature the Heart Choice logo on packaging, a move that "enables stronger communication of the sterol content and helps differentiate the product on the store shelf."

Functional formulations take hold

A week later, George Weston Bakeries was back in the news with the announcement it had launched Arnold Grains & More Double Omega bread.

Each two-slice serving of the bread contains 50 mg of the MEG-3 brand of omega-3 EPA/DHA fatty acids supplied by Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd., Dartmouth, N.S. MEG-3 has been linked to research supporting cardiovascular health, healthy brain function and overall good health.

In addition to MEG-3, the Grains & More Double Omega bread contains 20 grams of whole grains per slice and is considered a good source of fiber and protein. The product is available in supermarkets and mass retailers in the northeast United States under the Arnold brand and in the Midwest United States under the Brownberry brand.

"The new Grains & More line was developed to provide consumers with an easy opportunity to fulfill daily nutritional recommendations," said Jennifer Hartley, business director, Arnold and Brownberry brands. "At Arnold, we take our nutrition very seriously, so it was important for us to utilize the best suppliers to ensure each ingredient offered the maximum health boost."

Pepperidge turns to breakfast

A different direction, though with a similar focus on health and wellness, was taken by Norwalk, Conn.-based Pepperidge Farm, Inc., which on Sept. 19 announced the launch of a new line of breakfast baked foods that includes three bread and two bagel varieties. The line will be sold under a Pepperidge Farm Fruit & Grain banner.

The bread varieties include cranberry orange, apple pomegranate, and blueberry acai, and the bagel choices are cherry pomegranate and cranberry blueberry.

"People are continuously seeking variety at mealtime, especially breakfast, but they also want foods that offer great taste, nutrition and convenience," said Tim Hassett, general manager, Pepperidge Farm. "Our new Fruit & Grain breads and bagels provide the perfect harmony of great taste and nutrition."

Pepperidge Farm said the new products contain both whole grains and fruit. A slice of the Fruit & Grain bread contains half a serving of whole grains while a bagel contains a full serving. The bread contains 100 calories or fewer per slice while the bagels contain 170 or fewer. The company said the 170 calories are less than most pre-packaged bagels.

Servings contain at least 3 grams of fiber, are a good source of calcium and are made with flaxseed and are a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

The new products became available Sept. 19 at supermarkets, grocery stores and mass merchandisers in the Northeast and the South with a suggested retail price of $4.29.

Adding prebiotics to bread

Prebiotics have been making headlines throughout the food and beverage industry for longer than a year. Now, the bread industry is getting into the act.

On Sept. 24, Fort Worth, Texas-based Bimbo Bakeries USA introduced Acti-Fiber Wheat bread under the Mrs Baird’s brand, making it the first prebiotic bread available in mainstream supermarkets in Texas, according to Bimbo.

"We are very excited to offer the first widely available prebiotic bread in the region," said Aaron Fisher, brand manager for Mrs Baird’s. "In this competitive marketplace, it is important to stay ahead of the curve. Research shows consumers are demanding more from their everyday foods and there is a strong interest in pre- and probiotic products."

Mrs Baird’s Acti-Fiber Wheat is a prebiotic bread that aids in digestive health. According to Bimbo, the bread has a prebiotic fiber, derived from chicory root, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. In addition, each two-slice serving of the bread contains 160 calories, 8 grams of whole grains, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 2.5 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, October 28, 2008, starting on Page 46. Click
here to search that archive.