What's trending in bakery and savoury snacks?
Clean label continues to lead the bakery and snacking sectors, and with health fast becoming a priority, this has opened up opportunities for clean label and natural ingredients. By Alison Coppolella, Quality Assurance & Tehnical Development Manager, Azelis.
Today, trends in the bakery and snacking sectors continue to be led by clean label and increasing pressures on making products in these sectors healthier.
As such, one trend we are seeing today is an industry-wide effort by manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in such products. However, where high intensity sweeteners are not permitted or desired, sugar reduction is very challenging.
The demand for clear label ingredients therefore opens the door to natural sugars like honey and maple. Maple can be substituted with sugar without affecting the functionality and also gives a premium, indulgent flavour.
Maple is preceived by consumers to be healthier than sugar but just as sweet. To reduce calorie intake whilst maintaining sweetness, maple syrup concentrates are really effective. Being concentrated, the intensity of flavour and colour remains high, but would require a much lower dosage than sugar. As such, this reduces the total amount of calories within the same amount of food, and meets the needs for natural sugars and lower calories.
TECHNICAL CHALLENGES WITH SUGAR REFORMULATION
Reducing sugar in formulations can cause challenges in terms of maintaining sweetness, but technically the challenge can be even greater due to the functional properties that sugar brings.
During the mixing and creaming processes, sugar helps to incorporate air - which expands during baking and gives baked products their characteristic volume. Also, about half of the sugar dissolves to make water unavailable for gluten development and delays gelatinisation.
During baking, the sugar in the batter interacts with the protein and starch. and the temperature rise causes the fat and sugar to melt and the dough becomes more fluid. As the sugar dissolves and causes the dough to spread, the melted sugar aids in producing the appealing surface cracking of baked products and the cooked colour known as caramelisation.
Among the various sugar substitutes, soluble corn fibre can overcome these technical problems while increasing the total fibre content and beneficial physiological effects from a higher fibre product. Unlike soluble fibres from other sources, corn fibre is very well tolerated by the human body and offers single intake and daily tolerance levels of 40g/intake or 65g/day.
Soluble corn fibre is acidic and process-stable with a neutral colour and a very clean flavour profile. With a rheology similar to 30DE glucose syrup, it maintains the texture and functionality of sugar or glucose syrup.
To improve the level of caramelisation in a reduced sugar snack or baked product, another substitute - malt flour - can help enhance and premiumise its appearance, as well as add flavour.
Malt flours are easy to use, and are a cost-effective means of adding colour to baked goods at only 2-3 percent dosage. Barley and malt extraqcts contribute the colour and also help to give a softer texture.
As with maple syrup concentrates, sugar can be substituted with malt extract in sweet baked snacks. Despite a lower relative sweetness compared to sugar, flavours are enhanced, the surface colour develops more quickly, and a softer texture can result.
OPTIONS FOR HEALTHIER SNACKS
The bakery and snacking sectors have seen a lot of development not only with sugar reduction, but also in terms of cleaning up labels to remove salt and MSG over the past decade to create even healthier products. Without clever development work, however, this has led to products with a very flat flavour profile. As innovation in these sectors continues, the need for clear label ingredients continues to grow.
The availability and, more importanly, the quality of colouring and flavouring foodstuffs can drive innovation in these sectors. These natural and very clear label products bring intense taste solution from a wide range of antural sources like fruit and vegetables, botanicals, meat and seafood, wines and vinegars. With these minimally processed ingredients, flavour technologists are able to add signatures and create unique flavour combinations.
Additionally, many of these products are created by cooking the raw materials together, providing complex and culinary profiles such as soffritto and mirepoix, complete stock powders, Thai and wok profiles - all of which bring intense, round flavour profiles to the consumers.
For sweet snack, manufacturers can consider the use of brown profiles like caramel, butter and sautéed flavours. They work in reduced sugar products to improve the perception and mouthfeel, giving a more indulgent impression.
In their search for healthier snacks, there is also a growing demand by consumers for more functional food. Manufacturers looking for ingredients, such as those for improved satiety, can look at natural protein concentrate from oats to help meet the fast growing consumer demand for protein-enriched foods.
The protein component is extracted from oat bran. It is rich in essential amino acids (including leucine, isoleucine and lysine), highly digestible, and an excellent alternative to dairy, soy or wheat proteins. It is vegan-friendly and may be suitable for gluten-free foods.
CONSUMER TRENDS IN GRAIN CONSUMPTION
There seems to be an increasing interest in the health benefits of ancient grains, of which the most well-known and accepted grain by consumer is oat. Oats are perceived to be traditional, natural and healthy. The health and functionality from oats comes from the oat beta glucan content, which is a unique soluble fibre widely recognised for the promotion of healthy cholesterol levels, improved digestion and a reduced glycaemic response that assists in weight management.
It is common consensus that everyone should increase their consumption of dietary fibre from varied sources, and the addition of oat beta glucan to products can help individuals easily meet their recommended fibre intakes. Oat beta glucan is a viscous, soluble fibre with a clean taste and neutral colour. It also has strong water binding characteristics - emulsifying properties - that improve the shelf-life of bakery products through moisture management.
Malted grains and flakes can be used to add texture to biscuits as well as add wholegrain content and an interesting rustic/homemade appearance. They are often used in biscuits, granolas and snack bars for texture addition and help give a firm bite to cereal bars.
A HEALTHIER BAKERY AND SNACK FUTURE AHEAD
With the growing awareness and spread of the health and wellness trend worldwide, there are now many opportunities for manufacturers to enter the bakery and snack markets with clean label natural ingredients. These can function to reduce sugar, salt or fat content in existing products, or add on to and make new and existing products healthier, such as with fibre.
These clean label ingredients can also serve to improve not only the taste, but the texture of the foods, contributing to an enhanced sensory experience for consumers - but only if formulated right.
To meet functional demands, there are a myriad of ingredients available on the market today, and manufacturers would do well to explore and innovate with thyese for the healthier future of the bakery and snacks sector.