Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations
Trend Watching


February 6, 2008
By Jane Ayer

Topics

The beginning of 2008 found me in Montreal, to meet with the Canadian
pastry team competing at the Mondial des Arts Sucres at Europain at the
end of March (we’ll have a profile of the team in the March issue, be
sure to check it out).

The beginning of 2008 found me in Montreal, to meet with the Canadian pastry team competing at the Mondial des Arts Sucres at Europain at the end of March (we’ll have a profile of the team in the March issue, be sure to check it out). While I was there, I had tea and a sandwich at a Première Moisson café. Since the fall, the Quebec bakery chain has been making all of its bread products with wheat grown entirely in its own backyard and milled by Moulins de Soulanges, a mill partially owned by Première Moisson. The mill’s project manager, Rudy Laixhay, has been working with Quebec farmers for almost three years now to grow 40 different varieties of wheat. Laixhay says he was told over and over again that wheat could not be grown in the province.

But he proved the naysayers wrong.

And word is others are following Première Moisson’s lead, with Multi-Marques (owned by Maple Leaf Foods) set to come out with a Quebec bread, and another Quebec bakery (Boulangerie Auger) planning to supply Costco with a homegrown bread product.

The same goes for Stonemill Bakehouse, based in Toronto, which is working on a whole line of bread made with 100 per cent Ontario wheat flour. Erin Fletcher of the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board has more about the local food trend. And it is a trend, driven partially by consumers who are concerned about how far their food is travelling and the environmental impact those food miles are having.

Which leads us to another trend, this one with a green hue. When countries that don’t have a particularly glowing record in terms of environmental practices ban free plastic bags in favour of reusable ones, it’s time to sit up and take note. At the beginning of the year, China issued a ban on plastic bags under a certain thickness and a “return to cloth bags and shopping baskets to reduce the use of plastic bags.” Stronger, sturdier plastic bags will still be available, but consumers will have to purchase them. The ban takes effect at the beginning of June, just in advance of the kickoff for the Summer Olympic Games. Whatever the country’s intentions for tackling plastic bags (good public relations or real environmental concern), the move says a lot about a trend that looks as though it’s evolving beyond fad into a lasting movement.

Can the same be said of the market for functional foods? Check out our website for profiles of a couple of new healthy, functional foods on the Canadian market. Whether it’s candy with fibre or chocolate with probiotics, the list of new foods out in the marketplace that offer added health benefits is long and growing. And I, for one, like the idea of foods that have an added boost of goodness. But beware a backlash, a move towards simple, so-called “clean” foods made with simple, straightforward, uncomplicated and un-enhanced ingredients. Journalist Michael Pollan in his book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto argues for a return to plain food, the sort of food our grandmothers would make and eat.

“If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims,” Pollan says less than a few hundred words into his book.  “Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.”

Pollan’s other two books (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire made it to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List, and In Defense of Food, though newly published, is already there).

I’ve run out of space and I haven’t even begun to delve into sodium, and Internet usage and trans fats, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the magazine and our website (which is newly revamped, by the way, please tell us what you think) for more trends we’re spotting in the industry, many as yet undiscovered.

In the meantime, I look forward to another year of hearing your stories, sharing your successes – and sampling your products!