Sales of baked goods and industrial bread are rising in Asia due to demographic changes, and present a business opportunity—if the freshly-baked texture can be extended during storage.
Baked goods are highly perishable. Globally, an estimated 10-15 percent of bread is thrown away at huge economic loss. Extending the usability of such products by even a few days could save millions of tons of flour every year.
Packaged Bread And Convenient Foods On The Rise
According to Euromonitor, the Asia Pacific region is showing rising consumer interest in highly processed, convenient and sophisticated foods, driven by demographic changes in population growth, increased urbanisation and rising incomes.
Measured in value, the overall market for packaged foods in the broader Asia Pacific region is expected to grow by 3.5 percent CAGR from 2016-2020, according to Euromonitor International. Looking at volumes, growth rates are expected to grow at over six percent CAGR 2013-2018 in both China and India, with Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia close behind.
This is leading to a growing demand for all types of food ingredients, particularly the more added-value and specialty products as the markets continue to evolve. Interest is especially strong in more natural and health and wellness ingredients, as well as convenience foods—growth in sales of packaged bread is rising in a number of Asian markets as more women enter the work force.
The volumes of baked goods and packaged bread have been consistently rising in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam since 2011, according to Euromonitor International. Measured in value, the region is expected to be the fastest growing bread market in the world at 2.7 percent CAGR predicted 2016-2018.
Understanding Consumer Wants
When asked what the main reason is to throw bread away, 50 percent of a group of 4,000 consumers across Denmark, Netherlands, Spain and Russia said: when the bread has become “dry” or “hard”—both of which are parameters that can be controlled by enzymes and emulsifiers. On the contrary, 30 percent answered “when bread has become mouldy”, a parameter controlled by preservatives, which are outside the scope of this article.
Likewise, at point of purchase “softness and springiness” were the dominant factors that consumers mentioned when asked which criteria they used. Similarly, repurchase decisions are heavily influenced by taste and texture.
Because consumers pay such careful attention to texture, it is important for industrial bakeries to find ways to produce breads that retain their soft, elastic texture with moist mouthfeel, even after days of distribution over long distances and display on the shelves of warm retail outlets.
One way to maintain the quality and freshness that consumers expect is through emulsifiers, which are food additives that must be listed on the label. Emulsifiers are a subset of surfactants and function by keeping small droplets of oil and water dispersed, creating a stable, homogenous, smooth emulsion. They are used in many food products, with the bakery industry a big user.
Another method to preserve the softness, elasticity and eating qualities of baked goods are enzymes, which are proteins that are used as processing aids—they are inactivated during baking.
Enzymes can deliver the same or additional benefits as emulsifiers, and can actually perform many different functions in commercial baking; one of the most well-known is extended fresh-keeping even after 10 to 14 days of storage.
Enzymes are thus useful to producers who are willing to adopt technology to achieve product differentiation and business advantage.
Bread And Staling
So what exactly happens to bread that it becomes hard and dry during storage? The most accepted model describing bread staling shows that starch retrogrades from a formless amorphous state into a firmer crystalline state during cooling and ageing, creating a more rigid crumb.
Enzymes (amylases) are effective in preserving the fresh elastic texture of baked goods because they hinder the recrystallisation in the amylopectin, providing a softer crumb structure for a longer period of time. This action remains in effect for weeks or even months after baking, and has been demonstrated in a wide variety of flours and baking methods.
Enzymes are naturally-occurring proteins that have been used in the preparation of food for thousands of years, for example in the making of bread, cheese and wine. But enzymes are highly specific, and finding just the right enzyme for extending fresh keeping in modern baked goods is not a simple task.
Fortunately, highly reliable and consistent results can be achieved using an easy-to-use maltogenic alpha-amylase that, in addition to delivering the usual softness and elasticity over time, also receives superior sensory evaluations for eating qualities such as moistness, chewiness, melting and smoothness, even after 14 days storage.
It has been used successfully in a wide variety of baked goods, everything from white sandwich loaf bread to wheat tortillas, even at low dosages, making it a cost-effective alternative. It is highly sugar-tolerant, making it appropriate for use in sweet dough products, including hamburger buns and doughnuts. It is also effective in maintaining softness and moistness in frozen and chilled bread products as well as frozen dough.
Sales of baked goods and industrial bread are rising in Asia due to demographic changes, and present a business opportunity—if their freshly-baked texture can be extended. The challenge is that consumers quickly notice and do not accept changes in the texture of baked goods.
Fortunately, enzymatic technology is available and this can dramatically increase the length of time that baked goods retain good eating qualities, and support the trend towards reduced use of food additives. The latest technology is easy to use, gives reliable results and offers a cost-effective solution to bread improvers and commercial bakeries.