Bakers Journal

Final Proof: Health is a driving trend in bread

April 22, 2024
By Jane Dummer, RD

With one in four consumers looking at health attributes when purchasing fresh bread and bread products, there is ample opportunity to innovate


Bread is a global staple. Worldwide, consumers are eating more bread and bread products. Innova Market Insights, Category Insider: Global Trends in Bread and Bread Products (May 2023) identified that, while taste remains a priority, consumers’ growing interest in health is expected to be the primary driver for upcoming trends. With one in four consumers globally looking at health attributes when making a purchase in the fresh bread/bread products category, there is ample opportunity to innovate. 

Health-forward innovations were evident at the recent ASB BakingTECH 2024 conference in Chicago. Top health priorities in bread include the use of health-forward ingredients, improving gluten-free options and embracing centuries-old techniques like fermentation. Sustainability is an overarching theme in both products and packaging. 

ASB BakingTECH 2024 speaker Richard Charpentier, CMB, president, Baking Innovation, says: “There’s a growing demand for bread options made with whole grains, driven by consumer interest in health-conscious eating and nutritional benefits as well as sustainable. Expect to see more breads incorporating whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, quinoa, rye and barley, which provide essential nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals. Consumers are seeking bread fortified with dietary fibre to promote digestive health, satiety and overall well-being. Incorporating fibre-rich ingredients such as psyllium husk, oat bran and flaxseed into bread formulations can meet this demand and offer added nutritional value.”

Daniel Lacoste, vice-president sales, marketing and distribution, Boulangerie St-Méthode, explains: “There is a growing demand for bread made from alternative grains such as spelt, quinoa and buckwheat due to their perceived health benefits and nutritional value. Also, consumers are seeking bread products that contain functional ingredients like seeds, nuts and the ancient grains, which are believed to provide added health benefits including increased fibre and protein, plus enhanced satiety.”


Brett McDonald, senior manager innovation and optimization, COBS Bread, agrees: “Our high-fibre loaf is one of our top selling loaves. What looks like a typical white loaf, we have added oat fibre to the dough to give it four times more fibre than our traditional white loaf. This is a great health benefit and proving popular particularly with families wanting to add more fibre to their diets. We are currently developing a new sourdough bread that incorporates the benefits of oats, which are not only high in fibre, but are prebiotic and contain antioxidant compounds that promote gut health.”

Gluten-free options have improved in taste, texture and nutrition over the past 10 years. Lacoste emphasizes: “The demand for gluten-free bread continues to rise as more consumers adopt gluten-free diets for health reasons, driving the need for innovative gluten-free formulations that maintain taste and texture.”

Bakeries and manufacturers are innovating with gluten-free ingredients from pulses, seeds and nuts to meet sensory demands along with enhanced nutrition like high protein. At the BakingTECH 2024 Marketplace, The Protein Brewery was showcasing BetterBrand’s much-anticipated Gluten-Free Better Bagel. This innovation made with Protein Brewery’s Fermotein ingredient is packed with 10 grams of protein and has an appealing taste and mouthfeel.

Artisanal fermentation is a historical innovation that has had a revival over the past 10 years. Charpentier explains: “Sourdough bread, a centuries-old technique, is making a resurgence due to its natural fermentation process, which enhances flavour, texture and digestibility. This traditional method is valued for its ability to create unique and complex flavour profiles.” 

McDonald says: “Research, we have seen recently, has shown that consumers consider sourdough to be a healthy choice, helping it fit into the mainstream market. All our bakeries make their sourdough breads from scratch on site with a long, slow fermentation process, using a levain that was created on the west coast. This levain has flown across the country to feed and create new levains for each bakery. This makes us unique and gives our bakers a sense of pride. It is evident in the way the bakers feed their levains daily, and by the names they have come up with for their distinctive levains including ‘Avril levain’ and ‘Sponge Bob sour pants.’ ”

Charpentier concludes, “The bread industry is experiencing a transformative phase, driven by evolving consumer preferences for healthier, more flavourful and sustainable options. Innovations across ingredients, processes and packaging are reshaping product offerings and driving market expansion.” / BJ

Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America.

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