In Focus: Solutions For Freshness
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018
Experts believe the growing demand for baked products presents several growth opportunities—provided the freshly-baked texture is extended during storage. By Steven Choo Sin Poh, regional business manager at Novozymes Baking, Food & Nutrition (South East Asia).
For centuries, rice has been a staple food for a majority of Asians. But in recent years, consumers seem to have lost some of their appetite for it. Driven by convenience and westernisation, an increasing number of consumers are now opting for baked products. To meet this growing demand, bakeries are popping up all over Asia.
However, baked goods pose a big challenge: staling. Because they are highly perishable, a high volume of bread is thrown away at a huge economic loss. Extending the usability of the products even by a few days could save millions of tons of flour every year.
Consumers Care For Fresh
Keeping bread fresh for longer is also important to consumers. According to a Nielsen study, freshness is paramount among consumers in Asia. The same study found that fresh foods contribute as much as 60 percent of food, grocery, and personal care expenses across all retail channels on average.
When it comes to their bread, consumers in this region highly value the sensory quality of moistness. And they have high expectations when it comes to the texture of packaged bread.
“Freshness matters to consumers here and often repurchase decisions are influenced by taste and texture,” says Suresh Chandran, regional director of Food & Beverage South East Asia at Novozymes.
It goes without saying that it’s essential for bakeries to find ways to produce breads that retain their soft, elastic texture with a moist mouthfeel throughout storage.
A Fresh Idea To Keep Your Bread Fresh
For years, bakers accepted that staling was inevitable. They used emulsifiers, which are food additives to maintain the quality and freshness of their baked goods. But with enzymes, bakers have discovered a more powerful and effective solution to keeping their bread fresh for longer.
Enzymes are proteins used as processing aids. They are inactivated during baking and they provide same or additional benefits as emulsifiers. The best part? They can extend fresh-keeping even after 10 to 14 days of storage. This allows bakeries to deliver products over long distances. It also improves bakeries’ operational efficiencies by allowing them to generate safety-stock inventories.
Enzymatic fresh-keeping solutions are proven to deliver better softness, moistness and eating properties with a moist, tender texture throughout shelf-life in a wide variety of baked products. By adding an important new tender texture, they provide a new, delicious dimension to fresh-keeping in packaged bread, and reduce stale returns.
Studies show a clear consumer preference for bread with enzymes in terms of softness, foldability, moistness and overall like scores. This provides bread manufacturers with the opportunity to make powerful claims such as ‘soft’, ‘tender’ or ‘delicate’.
The Science Behind It
Interestingly, the use of enzymes in food preparation is not new; it’s quite an ancient practice. For centuries, enzymes have been used in production of foods such as wine, cheese and bread. And one of the key benefits they offer to bakers is keeping bread fresh to the last slice.
But how exactly do enzymes enable fresh results in baked products?
Enzymes are effective in preserving the fresh elastic texture of baked good 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.
But for all the benefits they provide to bread manufacturers, finding the right enzyme is not easy. That’s because they are highly specific.
Luckily, an easy-to-use maltogenic alpha-amylase can deliver highly reliable and consistent results. In addition to delivering the usual softness and elasticity over time, a maltogenic alpha-amylase receives superior sensory evaluations for eating qualities such as moistness, chewiness, melting and smoothness, even after 14 days storage. It has also been used 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 also highly sugar-tolerant, making it appropriate for use in sweet dough products, including hamburger buns and doughnuts. Moreover, it is effective in maintaining softness and moistness in frozen and chilled bread products as well as frozen dough.
The Boom Of Baked Goods In Asia
Although rice is still the staple in much of Asia, the demand for baked goods is growing steadily. For most Asian consumers, baked products such as bread, bagels and pastries provide a quick and more convenient option. Take South Korea, for example. Rice consumption has hit record lows as breads and baguettes have become more popular among consumers. Bakeries are ubiquitous across South Korea today, and a similar trend can be seen in other parts of Asia.
According to Euromonitor, the Asia Pacific region is showing rising consumer interest in highly processed, convenient and sophisticated foods. Experts cite demographic changes in population growth, increased urbanisation and rising incomes as factors driving this trend.
“It’s a pan-Asia trend really. Consumers love their rice, but they don’t always have the time for meals that take hours to prepare. Hence, the growing popularity of breads and other baked goods that help them save time and energy,” observes Mr. Chandran.
Industry analysts predict the innovative product development of low trans-fat, low fat, multigrain, whole grain, and organic baked products to further whet the appetite of Asian consumers. For bread manufacturers, the packaged and premium segments of bakery products promise growth opportunities.
Although the demand for baked goods is growing in Asia, wheat production is relatively low in the region. To cater to increasing consumer demand, Asian countries are importing wheat from Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Canada and the United States.
The Future Of Baked Goods
Driven by demographic changes and a growing focus on convenience, the sale of baked goods and industrial bread is rising in Asia. Consumers are leaning towards food products that are quick and convenient. Thus, everything from rolls and brioche to bread and bagels, presents a business opportunity—if their freshly-baked texture can be extended.
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