Bakery Trends: What’s Baking?
Monday, December 11th, 2017
The end of the year is always a good time to review the year’s trends and what can be expected for next year or the coming years. Michael Skriver, director regional, AAK Singapore, talks with APFI on three big trends of the bakery industry.
There are several trends, and they depend on which country and segment of customers. I think one universal trend that has been very strong in the food and beverage industry in the last five years is that of health. Customers and end consumers are driving this, with the former looking to include healthier ingredients in products, and the latter demanding for even healthier options, even those under the indulgence category such as chocolate. But other than this, I see three other big trends in the bakery industry.
No Trans, Less Saturated, And Just Better Fats
From a fats perspective, we’re seeing two main trends.
The first of this is that of non-trans. Trans fat has been long known to be dangerous, and we’re seeing our customers actively eliminating it from their products. A lot of the products on shelves today do not include trans fats because everyone is working to get them out of formulations.
Another trend we’re seeing is on saturated fat. This is something that has been discussed a lot about in the US, but now we’re seeing it reach even the Asian region. For example, Philippines has recently launched products with a traffic light system—red, yellow and green indicators to indicate to consumers the amount of saturated fat that they contain. This is a surprise in the Philippines, because they’re the biggest country in coconut, which is 93 percent saturated fat.
But other countries like Thailand and Indonesia are following suit. We’ve had a few customers in these areas asking the same question: what they can do to lower the amount of saturated fat in their products. Not only saturated fat, but all fat, really.
There’s also another upcoming trend we’re seeing with consumers’ growing interests in healthy food. Now it doesn’t seem only to be about ‘low’ fat, but the ‘right’ fat. Demand for this type of foods, propelled by the growing popularity of diets such as keto or Atkins, that encourage consumers to eat the right kind of fats—natural healthy fats such as those from avocado, butters, nut oils, etc. So there’s a big focus now on what kind of fat is in foods.
The big new thing about this is that this trend is moving to be seen in even indulgent products. So it’s not only in energy bars or nutritionally-tailored foods; it’s also being seen in chocolate products, which are traditionally seen as indulgent. People now eat chocolate for the phenols, because they know it is good to have antioxidants, but they want it to be mixed with something so that the product becomes healthier overall.
For example, Japan has launched chocolate products that contain probiotics, and it’s really taking off in the senior population. And they are trying to do the same with healthy lipids. This is a big change and an opportunity for manufacturers, because if you can get ingredients from natural sources, such as omega-6 from algae, you wouldn’t need to label it as ‘concentrated’ or ‘extracted’—you can just state that it’s ‘naturally sourced’.
This is allowing more manufacturers a piece of this market, because they can now launch products that were perceived as unhealthy before. I won’t say you can get a ‘healthy’ croissant, for instance, but you can get baked products that are healthier. For example, a croissant that contains dark chocolate and additional phenols, and maybe some omega-6, would make a semi-healthy croissant with chocolate. And that’s enough to get consumers’ attention. They know it’s indulgence, and they just want a little bit of this indulgence, knowing that it’s slightly healthier than a standard croissant.
Behind Stories Move Consumers
With our regional customers, we’re seeing them focusing not only on how they can make products healthier, but also how they can add to the story behind this product. When consumers indulge in themselves, especially in Millennials, an increasing number of them do read the ingredients first. They actually care. But they don’t always look at Wikipedia or research studies. They look to social media for information they need, getting this from bloggers or influencers they follow.
While the information may not be 100 percent correct, the words of these bloggers or influencers hold a lot of weight and people will still follow. The reality of the world today is that perception is reality. If Millennials think that a particular blogger is right, or that a trend is good, they will buy in. So what we’re seeing now that when customers create the products, they’re also looking for ways to make their products more ‘premium’. And this can be justified by positive stories, such as traceability, sustainably sourced, fair trade, etc.
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