Sowing the Seeds of Change in Bread

11 Nov 2014

Bread has an image problem. Across Europe, a significant proportion of consumers (as high as 48% in the UK and Italy) state that bread is not an option for those trying to lose weight and even more (54% in Italy and 48% in the UK and Spain) believe sliced bread contains too many artificial preservatives. […]

Sowing the Seeds of Change in Bread

Bread has an image problem. Across Europe, a significant proportion of consumers (as high as 48% in the UK and Italy) state that bread is not an option for those trying to lose weight and even more (54% in Italy and 48% in the UK and Spain) believe sliced bread contains too many artificial preservatives. Boosting the health appeal of bread to drive increased consumption is therefore a priority.

In such an environment, positioning bread as healthier and more natural through the use of nutrient-boosting ingredients such as seeds, ancient grains and fruits is an increasingly popular tactic. Indeed, in 2014 bread made with seeds has accounted for one in five of all launches globally, having consistently grown in recent years. Such development meets the consumer interest in added health attributes: 35% of Germans rate fibre as an important factor when buying bread, for example, while 33% of UK consumers are interested in trying baked goods that contain more fibre.

Germany, the US, Canada and the UK are the markets where most seeded bread innovation has taken place. Germany especially has traditionally been a market where bread with seeds has done well: in 2013, 77% of German bread consumers were eating multigrain bread, including bread with different seed toppings, whilst in the UK 40% were eating granary/multigrain bread, including seeded varieties.

With the number of bread products containing seeds growing, the variety of seeds being used is widening. Sesame seeds, linseeds (flaxseeds) and sunflower seeds account for the majority of seeds used; however, other seed types are also coming into play. Poppy, psyllium, cumin and especially chia seeds have seen significant growth in usage in recent years.

Poppy and cumin seeds are a good source of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, manganese and iron as well as vitamin B. Psyllium seed husk is fibre-rich and is thus often promoted for weight control and for general intestinal health. Chia seeds, meanwhile, have an excellent nutritional profile, containing numerous minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being high in fibre and protein.

The launches of bread containing chia seeds in recent years have been concentrated in the Americas and Australasia. Given that Latin America and Australia are where the seed is commercially grown and the US has a familiarity with the seed already, this is perhaps unsurprising. However, their continuing lack of usage in Europe is surprising, given that the UK and Germany are two key markets for seeded bread innovation. Chia seeds were approved in 2009 as a novel food in the EU for use in bread products.

So far, in the UK at least, a launch under the Burgen brand of a sunflower and chia seed bread in 2012 remains the most high profile. However, chia seeds are starting to be seen in a wider range of products, including breakfast cereals and snacks following European approval in 2013 for their use in these products under an application by Australia’s The Chia Company. With other applications for such approval having also been granted in 2014, the market could soon be exposed to more chia-containing foodstuffs which should provide greater incentive to use them in bread as well.

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