Michael Bultel has spent nearly 30 years supporting the baking and milling industries as a food technologist.

“Being a bread lover with farmer family roots, I have always been attracted to the area of cereals,” he said.

Mr. Bultel started his career in the milling industry before joining Lesaffre in 2006, where he has since served in a variety of positions across the globe. He began at Lesaffre’s International Baking Center in France, providing product development and technical support to regional markets in Western Europe, Africa and South America. In 2013, Mr. Bultel joined Lesaffre’s Central Europe division in Croatia. He was then promoted to head of Lesaffre’s Asia Pacific Baking Center in Singapore in 2016, where he managed the company’s technical application center. Most recently, Mr. Bultel joined Lesaffre’s North America division in Milwaukee as baking business development manager last year.

“I really enjoy supporting customers, helping with innovative baking solutions, sharing technical advice, achieving growth for their business and promoting the consumption of baked products,” he said. “Fermented products are so infinite; there is always something to learn.”

Mr. Bultel sees a lack of trained workforce, as well as high raw material costs and the trend toward cleaner labels as a few of the primary challenges bakers face today. He noted that Lesaffre helps combat the workforce issue by providing technical support and training to bakers. 

“Long term, keeping consumers attracted to baked products is very important for the future of our industry, so by offering new products, recipes and technical services, Lesaffre aims to help bakeries in their development,” he said.

What are some of the biggest cost
 challenges bakers face today?

Commercial bakeries face a barrage of economic headwinds. Having to contend with labor shortages and high inflation of raw materials, the costs of production have dramatically increased across the industry. On top of that, supply chain disruptions have made it more difficult and unreliable to source certain key dough improvers, such as emulsifiers, especially mono- and diglycerides (MDGs) and diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM).

How might costs differ based on the baked
 good being produced?

Obviously, cost of raw materials will be more limited in a lean dough recipe than in a rich sweet dough, such as brioche, which will be impacted much more by using many raw materials (sugar, fat, emulsifiers, preservatives). Even in a lean recipe, cost optimization can sometimes be found by using frozen dough techniques or shelf life extension.

What are some of the biggest cost-saving opportunities for bakers?

It can be a direct cost saving when replacing emulsifiers or gluten with enzyme blends such as Star-Zyme MDG Replacer for extended shelf life, which requires a usage level three-to-six times less than traditional emulsifiers. Furthermore, Star-Zyme MDG Replacer can reduce the amount of anti-staling ingredients required in an application by 10% to 15%. Saf Pro Star-Zyme STR 701 R is also a clean label alternative to MDGs and DATEM with similar characteristics to MDG Replacer but additionally replaces sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL), vital wheat gluten (VWG) and L-cysteine. The all-in-one formula contributes to dough relaxation, strength and tolerance, enhances volume and extends shelf life.

How can bakers minimize costs while
 still maintaining product quality? 

Certain doughs, like pizzas and baguettes, require long mixing times at high speeds, which can put a strain on production efficiencies. Formulating with deactivated yeast helps improve and control the manufacturing process and contributes added dough improving benefits. Increasing automation to improve productivity and compensate for workforce shortages requires bakers to find solutions to maintain high-quality dough and products. For such purposes, we see the benefits brought by Saf Pro baking ingredient solutions in maintaining the final quality of baking products.

With the current clean label trend, how can bakers produce clean label products in a cost-effective way?

Saf Pro Star-Zyme AST 300 is another clean label enzyme blend that creates long-term softness and can lower costs for producers and retail stores. In addition to contributing to improved dough machinability, AST 300 inhibits staling and extends the shelf life of a range of applications. Finished baked goods that remain soft and fresh for longer improve efficiencies and result in cost savings for bakeries and retail stores by requiring fewer deliveries and reducing waste on store shelves.

How can Lesaffre assist bakers in implementing cost-saving ingredients?

Lesaffre has high-level technical expertise in fermentation and enzyme solutions dedicated to baking products. Consumers are looking for cleaner products, for which several Saf Pro Star-Zyme solutions have been designed that can bring softness and freshness, a preservative effect with NMI solutions, and dough strengthening. 

To help bakeries satisfy their consumers in the trend for clean label, Lesaffre not only offers solutions but also service to customers through support from an experienced technical team that goes to the bakeries to advise and work along with customers.