Business and Operations
Bakery Inspection Trends
By Pierre DiGirolamo
Rising to a new decade’s challenges
By Pierre DiGirolamo
In its most recent Global Food and Drink Trends report , consumer analysts Mintel forecasted trends for the entire decade through to 2030, reflecting the rapid rate at which the entire food sector and consumer tastes are evolving. Gut health, veganism and convenience look set to continue shaping the bakery markets in westernized economies.
As we enter the 2020’s, Pierre DiGirolamo, Director of industrial metal detector manufacturer Fortress Technology, gives his take on the food safety challenges these changing trends pose for the bakery industry and how to overcome them.
Whether it’s palm-oil-free products or single-serve portions, today’s bakery manufacturers must work hard to meet consumer demands. Regardless of changing tastes, the primary concern for operators must always be food safety. Metal detectors and inspection systems are essential to the food production process and must keep pace with evolving food trends if safety standards are to be met.
Increase in single-serve portions
The global population is shifting towards alternatives to the traditional family set-up and this change is being reflected in the way people eat. According to statista, the number of single-person households has risen by 26.72 million in 2000 to 36.48 million (2019.)
These changing demographics led to a rise in preference for both convenience and health, driving new product development (NPD) for single-serve portions of baked goods that might previously have been deemed an indulgence. Slices of cake are selling fast, as are individual pastries, cupcakes, and cookies. On the savoury side, ‘simply small’ loaves of bread are filling the shelves to cater to single-person households, with ‘gut friendly’ ingredients, sourdough and vegetables in bread dough also among the emerging trends.
According to DiGirolamo, in order to accurately inspect single-serve portions and ensure they are free from contamination, producers need to ensure their metal detection solution is sophisticated enough to cope with not only different kinds of foodstuffs simultaneously, but also different types of packaging.
DiGirolamo explains: “Each type of product – cake, pastry, bread, etc. – has different conductive properties and therefore behaves differently in a metal detector. If each item is individually wrapped, then the overall packaging will be thicker and sensitivity might be affected. A metal detector that can run multiple frequencies simultaneously is ideal for these kind of products, as it can accurately inspect a variety of conductivities at the same time.” In North America, sustainability has been climbing up the consumer agenda for a number of years, and is set to really take off in 2020. The use of plastic has come under the spotlight due to the damaging effect it has on the world’s oceans. Major players in bakery production are setting an example of how to tackle the issue and answer consumer demand for environmentally friendly packaging. Last year, Unilever pledged to reduce the amount of plastic packaging it produces annually by about 14 percent by 2025. In addition, Bimbo Bakeries USA committed to using 100 percent sustainable packaging by 2025.
When utilizing plastic-free materials, manufacturers must find new ways to preserve bakery products and prevent food recalls. “In order to ensure a safe product yet avoid false readings, we advise our customers to only purchase recycled cardboard and compostable materials from a supplier that has a metal detection system on site; ensuring their packaging is free from contamination before it enters their factory,” advises DiGirolamo.
Use of metalized film can also prove challenging. Bread and cookie companies often use it to preserve their products and increase its aesthetic appeal, but its metal content causes a signal on the detector.
Problems with palm oil
The food industry utilizes about 90 per cent of palm oil, a component used in many bakery products as emulsifiers, margarine, and chocolate. However, growing demand has caused consumer concern over deforestation, animal extinction, and child labor. Mintel’s Future of Biscuits, Cookies and Crackers report predicts that concerns over ingredient will drive palm-oil-free innovation over the next two years.
However, processed foods with new recipe formulations can cause problems for inspection machines, explains DiGirolamo. “The ingredients used to make bakery products like snack bars and cookies are often dropped into a drum before being pressed into the required shape. If a contaminant such as a piece of metal falls into the drum rollers, it will get flattened and crushed, running the risk of it being incorporated into the final product.”
A bright future
As food trends evolve, inspection machine manufacturers will continue to work closely with bakery producers to develop solutions that address food safety and mirror the latest ingredient and packaging trends. / BJ
Pierre DiGirolamo, Director, Fortress Technology, Director of Fortress Technology, a privately-owned Toronto based company. Fortress Technology is a metal detection manufacturer that, since its inception in 1996, custom manufactures metal detectors to suit its customers’ needs, application and specification while ensuring optimal performance.