Bakers might pride themselves on creating a healthy, natural product, but in the past year more loaves have appeared on shelf with ingredients added or taken away.
You can buy bread with lower carbs, with a low Glycaemic Index or extra vitamins - not forgetting the familiar combination brown and white offerings.
Sales of brown, wholemeal and granary breads have all grown in recent months, as shoppers seek as many benefits as possible from their daily bread.
Ben Johnson, Cranks’s brand director, reckons that with recent health scares focusing on the high fat and salt content in bread, consumers have begun to think more carefully about their choices, which now include organic options.
“Organic breads are purchased primarily because consumers enjoy the natural, unadulterated taste and the denser, heavier texture.”
Allied Bakeries is helping consumers get healthier by combining its Calcium and White, and Vitamins and White products to launch Wonder White under its Kingsmill brand.
Commercial development team leader Lawrence Trist says: “The product has great appeal for families and is moving towards being a functional food, although it is still more about added benefits.”
Other NPD is focused on a message of less is more. Warburtons’ Good Health range consists of white and brown 400g loaves that are lower in fat, salt and sugar, while sales of its All in One loaf (with a lower GI for longer-lasting energy) have been good, says category marketing controller Sarah Miskell. She believes more consumers will soon be buying this instead of the traditional white loaf and that they are starting to understand that low GI means a product is better for them.
Allied Bakeries has put a low-GI label on its Burgen Soya & Linseed loaf, while British Bakeries recently launched Nimble Carbs So Low and updated the pack design across the whole Nimble range, showing the number of calories, fat and carbs per slice.
However, Waitrose bakery buyer James Dickson isn’t convinced that low-GI will take over from low-carb or even low-salt breads. “I suspect we will have to wait for all of these breads to truly make their mark in the wider market before being able to tell which is the winner.”
Darren Grivvell, head of Hovis marketing, reckons that consumer understanding of GI is at a very low level, but says: “Health interests are generally on the rise and we anticipate that the dietary bread category will continue to grow as consumers make small, important steps to improve their diet.”
As a result, RHM has undertaken a major revamp of its Hovis range, including new recipes, lower salt levels, new packaging and advertising as part of a £10m investment. White breads and rolls will be made using increased wholewheat, wholemeal loaves will have a new improved taste, and the salt content across all products in the range will be reduced by an average of 10%.