The craze of eating healthier in America continues to grow and grow. According to National Restaurant Association (NRA) surveys, 71 percent of adults are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago. The good news for retail bakeries and cafes is that consumers are going about their healthier lifestyles in a few different ways. While trying to change their diets for the better, consumers do not necessarily need or want to alienate the traditional products that a retail bakery or café offer.
A noted trend in the baking industry from Report Linker, a market research company specializing in finding, organizing and filtering the latest industry data, shows US consumers hunger for both healthy baked goods and comfort foods. Natural and organic ingredients along with smaller portion sizes represent the top ways for bakeries to target the healthier eating consumer.
Retail bakeries possess an innate advantage when it comes to comfort food, at least comfort food of the sweet variety. However, retail bakeries are in a good position to add to their comfort food line-up. Many go-to comfort foods contain savory flavors, and those flavors pair well with products that retail bakeries are already equipped to produce. In addition, some of the ingredients inherent in baking sweets can be prepared on there on as savory additions.
Biscuits continue to trend in the bakery world. So much so that biscuit specific bakeries have established themselves and seen longevity and growth. Seattle’s Serious Pie and Biscuit and Portland’s Pine State Biscuits represent two examples of taking the bakery-friendly staple comfort food, biscuits, and making them into something that sells strongly.
While fried chicken, bacon, fried egg and gravy biscuits probably won’t appeal to more health-conscious customers, there are still ways to put a healthy spin on this comfort food. Substituting ingredients works when you want to promote a comfort food as a healthy option. Use a sprouted whole-wheat flour to gain the health benefits without the bitterness. Be sure to promote and market your healthy options so consumers know they can come to your bakery for these products. Always remember, whether you’re substituting ingredients or not, the key to healthier comfort foods is portion size.
Items labeled organic will appeal to the healthy-lifestyle consumer. Whether the item truly benefits health in a specific way or not, simply being able to label an item organic influences shoppers within the demographic. Bakeries need to practice some caution when labeling items this way. Just putting a sticker that reads organic on products or using homemade signage that reads organic might not work and could definitely get you into trouble if the wrong person sees it.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) put forth rules and regulations regarding organic labeling in retail foodservice establishments and distribution centers. Follow these guidelines and begin labeling your products to attract the healthier-lifestyle consumer. Retail foodservice establishments do not need organic certification to label products organic, but can obtain it if they wish. However, they can be fined if not in compliance.
USDA Organic Labeling
Retailers are not required to investigate suppliers to ensure that products labeled “organic” comply with the law. Retailers are not subject to penalties if they sell an organic product — even a private label item — that is later found to be mislabeled, unless the retailer knew the product was mislabeled. Mislabeled products that have already entered the supply chain will not be recalled.
Retailers that process organic foods on the premises must comply with the following regulations for products labeled “organic” at retail; USDA recommends that retailers that handle, but do not process, organic foods also follow these rules. The regulations define four categories of organic products:
1. 100% organic - Raw or processed agricultural products that contain 100 percent organic ingredients.
2. Organic - Agricultural products that contain not less than 95 percent organic ingredients.
3. Made with [organic ingredients]” – Multi ingredient products that contain at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients.
4. Less than 70 percent organic ingredients – Multi ingredient products that contain less than 70 percent organically produced ingredients.
When preparing products on the premises of the retail food establishment that will be labeled “100% organic,” “organic” or “made with [organic ingredients],” make sure that you:
- Do not include organic and nonorganic forms of the same ingredient.
- Do not use any nonorganic ingredients in products labeled “100% organic.”
- Do not use nonorganic ingredients in products labeled “organic” when organic alternatives are available.
- Do not use ionizing radiation or un-approved processing aids.
- Do not use sulfites or nitrates
USDA Seal and ‘Certified’ Organic Status
USDA’s regulations allow a USDA seal to be used on organic agricultural products that are certified 100 percent organic or products that are certified as containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients.
The USDA seal may not be used in any way that implies that a store is certified as an organic production or handling facility unless it has been certified. Do not use the USDA seal or represent in any other way that a food or ingredient processed at the store is “certified organic” unless the store has been certified.
The regulations distinguish between products that are “organic” and those that are “certified organic.” A product may be identified as “certified organic” only if all of the facilities that processed the product are certified. Some handlers may be exempt or excluded without altering the ability to label the product
“certified organic,” provided that the exempt or excluded handlers do not process the product.
Source: Food Marketing Institute