Consumers are looking for products made with whole grains because they are perceived as healthier and closer to nature. Whole grains can also improve the taste and texture of loaf breads, particularly when a blend of two or more whole grains are used in combination. With over 100 years of milling experience, ADM offers a comprehensive portfolio of whole and ancient grains, including a range of non-GMO and organic options, which are ideal ingredients to achieve clean-label positioning.

“We anticipate demand for whole and ancient grains in the bread category to remain steady or grow. We also expect less-commonly known whole and ancient grain ingredients—such as hemp, farro and teff—to rise in popularity with consumers,” says Paula Labine, marketing director, milling & starch, for ADM

One way that consumers proactively support their health and wellbeing is by establishing a balanced, nutrient-dense diet. With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the news cycle, the demand for nutrient-forward foods and beverages formulated to offer health benefits has increased. Loaf bread is a pantry staple that consumers expect to taste great in addition to featuring better-for-you qualities such as reduced sugar content, added dietary fiber, as well as an ingredients label featuring whole and ancient grains.

Across the larger baked good category, there is increased interest in healthier products that score high marks in terms of quality and taste. ADM’s OutsideVoice℠ research on ancient grains found that 46% of consumers look for whole grains on the ingredient label when purchasing bread and bakery products. Developers have an opportunity to meet this demand by formulating with consumer behaviors and expectations top of mind.

“The bread category is better suited to whole grains than other baked good applications, as loaf breads tend to be more tolerant because of unique processing conditions,” Labine explains. “However, incorporating too many whole grains comes with the risk of structural weakness due to diluted gluten strength. To avoid this issue, product developers should select high-quality, compatible ingredients and optimize processing conditions.”

ADM’s expansive portfolio makes it easier to combine different whole grains to achieve great texture, taste and nutritional value in the finished product. Intact and visible whole-grain inclusions can also be added to loaf bread formulations to increase positive health perceptions while also enhancing appearance and texture.

Looking for flavor

Consumer interest in flavorful artisan breads such as sourdough is on the rise, and while an extended fermentation period is beneficial to the finished product taste, some bakers have moved to shorter fermentation times to improve efficiency. Developers can compensate for the loss by incorporating flavors that enhance baked notes. ADM offers a broad portfolio of flavors for the bread category to improve culinary-forward appeal, such as tandoor oven notes.

Consumers are more likely to try offerings with unfamiliar whole grain ingredients if paired with familiar whole grain ingredients. Product developers can pair standard whole grains with interesting emerging ingredients such as chia, hemp seeds, sorghum, and millet. Additionally, amaranth, kamut, freekeh, teff and einkorn are gaining prominence in the baked good category. Product developers can boost consumer acceptance of novel offerings by highlighting close-to-nature status and nutritional benefits the product offers.

ADM’s OutsideVoice℠ research on ancient grains found that 46% of consumers look for whole grains on the label when purchasing bread or bakery products, and 43% look for multigrain on the label. Our research also found that 58% of consumers are specifically looking to add whole grains to their diet. Product developers can use health-signaling descriptors such as whole wheat, whole grains, and multigrain to highlight positive nutrition to consumers.

“Our analysis of new product launches within the bread category reveals that whole grain remains a top claim in North America,” Labine says. “Additionally, new baked good product launches containing sourdough doubled across the globe from 2015 to 2019. Consumers increasingly recognize the benefits of the long fermentation process used to develop sourdough, associating it with improved digestive health.

In fact, ADM’s OutsideVoice℠ research found that 43% of consumers say that taste is the most important factor to consider when purchasing bread and baked goods. Sourdough and rye breads offer distinct taste profiles that draw in consumers.

Loaf bread developers should be aware that the push for sustainability and supply-chain transparency is likely to shape the future of the baked good category. Consumers increasingly expect products to line up to their conscious consumption values.

“ADM is committed to meeting demand for more responsibly produced goods, and we offer a variety of programs for bread manufacturers to partner with us to support sustainable agriculture,” Labine says. “For example, our wheat sustainability project drives environmental improvements and positive economic outcomes for growers. Our Grower Connect program is focused on maintaining long-standing relationships with producers while increasing supply chain transparency of finished products.