When it comes to innovation, bakers need to keep in mind what ingredients and packaging are available now and possibly for the future.

That’s why Crown Bakeries relies on “ingredient optimization” when creating new items for the foodservice and retail channels, noted Clay Mullins, vice president of supply chain and logistics for the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company.

“As we are developing a new product, we are cautious as to what we put into it,” he explained. “If we believe we’re going to be short in supply longer term, we’re going to limit our exposure to that ingredient.”

Prior to the pandemic, new product development was vital to holding onto consumer brand loyalty, but now it’s a lower priority for some bakeries, said Jim Warren, BEMA chairman and vice president, Exact Mixing, Reading Bakery Systems.

“Most companies aren’t as focused on developing new products but rather trying to fulfill orders for their best-selling products,” he said.

The American Bakers Association (ABA) discussed a wide range of health and supply chain issues with government officials during last fall’s White House Conference on Nutrition that rolled out the government’s national strategy and vision on nutrition policy moving forward, noted Lee Sanders, ABA’s senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. 

One announcement that emerged at the meeting involved the long-awaited “healthy” claim definition.

While the stringent definition is restrictive for many products, Ms. Sanders said some bakeries may be able to use the claim as an opportunity to create lower-sodium or reduced-sugar products or find new ways to market “healthy” items to children as the policy rolls out.

She added the Food and Drug Administration is also looking at new front-of-pack labeling but needs to conduct more research.

Another issue involves extended producer responsibility for packaging. Ms. Sanders pointed out that 22 states are expected to introduce a patchwork of legislation in 2023 that may extend a company’s responsibility for post-consumer management of products and packaging and even obligate them for recycling them.

“During the first part of the year, you are going to see a lot of state activity around packaging,” she said.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2023 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Supply Chain, click here.