Bakers Journal

Final Proof: Organic Baking in Canada

March 16, 2021
By Jane Dummer

How the growing trend in organic ingredients are giving rise to organic baking

Jacqueline Day, Founder and CEO of Real Treat.

Organic ingredients are now available in continuous supply, which allows manufacturers, and independent bakeries to devote their product offerings to the category. Plus, over the last decade, organic products have become more mainstream with steady growth. The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) commissioned Leger 360 to poll 1,000 consumers nationally in August 2020 to gauge the perception and appetite for organic food during the pandemic. This research reveals organic products sold in Canada now account for 3.2 per cent of all grocery sales. Canadian consumers are spending $6.9 billion annually on organic products. This is up from 2.6 per cent and $5.4 billion in 2017.

In a previous COTA research document, The Organic Food Processing Report: State of the Industry 2018, the total value of the organic baking sector, including ingredients was identified as $237.4 million in 2017.  Tia Loftsgard, Executive Director, COTA explains, “The data shows that Canadians are buying more organic products year over year, even during a global pandemic. From avoiding exposure to pesticides to higher animal welfare standards, consumers are making choices that align with their health priorities and values.”

Along with securing a consistent supply of organic ingredients, consumer trends have contributed to the rise in organic baked goods. Clean label, the popularity of artisanal techniques and demand for organic gluten-free ingredients, have supported this growth. Independent bakeries like Alpine Bakery, the first and only certified organic Bakery and Café North of 60 (located in Whitehorse, Yukon) can easily respond to their customers and succeed. Silvia Streit, Owner, explains, “All our products are 100 per cent certified organic, and we have seen the most demand for certified organic bread. We’re thrilled that Canadian certified organic oat milk became available mid last year. We love to use it because the organic oats are grown in Western Canada. We’ve had an intense demand for baked goods, even more for the savoury over the sweet ones. It seems more and more people are switching to healthy organic snacks.”

On the savoury note, Anne Druschitz, Corporate Research Chef, The Edlong Corporation in Chicago, describes, “Nostalgic organic flavours have been popular, especially in different formats. The popular ones have been Cheddar and Monterey Jack. Organic commodity cheese can be pricey, and supply can exceed demand, so using a smaller amount of cheese and boosting its impact with organic cheese flavours is a way to keep your consumers and the procurement team happy.”

People are more educated on product labels and are better able to seek out products that meet their preferences. Ashley Sabo, Senior Food Scientist, The Edlong Corporation, agrees, “Consumers are becoming more aware of what they’re eating and where it comes from, with Innova citing Transparency as the number one food trend in their list of Top 10 Food and Beverage Trends to Accelerate Innovation in 2021. At Edlong, we’ve seen an increase in requests from customers for organic flavours. Not just organic compliant but organic certified flavours specifically. By having organic certified flavours, customers now have room for other non-certified organic ingredients, like acids or gums, in their formula while remaining below the maximum amount needed to keep the organic certified label recognition. It’s important for all companies, including flavour companies, to keep up with the times and continue to innovate. We want to make sure we can meet our customers’ ever-growing and changing expectations in food.”

Jacqueline Day, Founder & CEO, REAL TREAT, a Canadian company that creates gourmet organic cookies at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta recalls, “In the beginning just about every ingredient was difficult to get. Or it may be more accurate to say there were far fewer sources for procurement. On many occasions we found ourselves having to pay retail for organic chocolate or nuts because our one and only wholesale supplier was out. But that has changed over the past five years. Even some of the mainstream conventional wholesalers have organic sections in their catalogues. Today, we see the demand for organic treats that are delicious and satisfying in the way conventional baked goods are. The pandemic has only accelerated that trend as people seek out options that bring comfort and break up the monotony of being stuck at home, while also supporting good health.” / 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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