Increasingly, consumers are gaining incredible product knowledge and culinary sophistication. This favors the growth of operations such as Manresa Bread.

The latest consumer research illustrates why shoppers are embracing such developments. According to a new report from Mintel, 34% of US adults say highly processed is a top concern – aside from price and taste – when purchasing food or drink. This is especially true when brands share the benefits of processing with language consumers can understand.

Brands offering minimally processed products such as fresh bakery items should share how processing improves their products in ways such as enhancing nutrition, increasing shelf life or reducing environmental impact.

Scrutiny of processing use in the food and drink industry is intensifying. Fueled by discussions about highly, overly or ultraprocessed food (UPF), feelings about processing will inspire consumers to look more closely at ingredients, nutrition and production methods.

Ultraprocessing is the latest evolution of terms such as junk food or clean label. According to Mintel, starting in 2024, more consumers will become aware of different levels of processing from media reports, regulations, and voluntary on-pack labels with ratings from sources such as NOVA or Siga.

This will encourage them to consider processing levels when choosing food and drink and to reconsider how frequently and on which the occasions they consume processed food and beverages.

While all things in moderation is a saying associated with highly processed products, there’s growth potential for minimally processed food and drink that focus on the positive aspects of food-processing techniques, such as those that enhance nutrition, inhibit contaminant formation.

“Many types of processed foods and processing techniques are valued by consumers on positive grounds linked to attributes like tradition, health and naturalness. Examples include stone-ground flour, cold-pressed oil and fermented dairy products,” explains Megan Stanton, associate director, Mintel Food & Drink.