Bakers Journal

Features Technical
Tricks of the Trade: April 2011


March 28, 2011
By Mario Fortin


Topics

Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up this spring. Be on the lookout for these top trends.

Temperatures aren’t the only thing heating up this spring. Be on the lookout for these top trends.

Everyone is looking for that new product that will make a big impact on the market. When you find that product, it rarely stays unique for long, as everybody tries to duplicate that initial success with products of their own. You can’t corner the market on unique forever. In a sea of similar products, the only way to stand out is to make quality products with consistency. You become unique by doing things differently from your competition.

If you’re looking for the next big thing, consider this important question: What kinds of new products can you make from your existing production line? This is a good way to make use of your equipment without having to make any big investments in your new idea.

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Next, consider which trends are popular at the moment. Sodium reduction is a big trend across the food industry. Reducing sodium may look easy, but there’s more to it than just reducing the quantity of salt in your products. For example, in breadmaking, salt has an effect on your process and the shelf life of your loaves, as well as the taste of the finished product. You have to consider all aspects of sodium reduction before launching a new low-sodium product.

Another big trend is living foods. Living foods include uncooked, unprocessed and organic foods. Sushi is one example of a living food. Other examples include foods made with cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts. The living food trend has sparked a fair bit of attention in the restaurant world and is poised to do the same for bakeries.

Whole-grain products are also changing the market. Have a look at the way cereals are processed: whole, milled, cracked, flaked, hulled, malted, puffed, soaked and sprouted. Bakery products made with sprouted and roasted cereals are becoming particularly popular. Examples include sprouted bread sticks, buckwheat pizza doughs, roasted grain croissants sweetened with honey, and sprouted quinoa bread. Almond baguette, walnut bread, pecan rye bread, or fruit and nut breads go well with cheeses.

In pastry products, the addition of ground flax as well as sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds to muffins, cookies and cakes makes for tasty, more healthful treats. Don’t be afraid to try something new in your cakes. Remember that what is good for breads can be good for pastries, so experiment.

Today, many fruits are available in a variety of forms: fresh, frozen, liquid, dehydrated, pureed, powdered, freeze-dried and sun-dried. Berries offer a lot of opportunities to play around with combinations for new textures and amazing tastes.

Trans-fat-free is a very timely trend. As consumers become increasingly aware of the link between trans fats and heart disease, you can be sure the demand for trans-fat-free products will increase. Be prepared to change your formulations to keep on top of this growing trend. If you do not have the internal expertise to reformulate, ask for help from outside your operation. There are lots of trans-fat-free options you’ll be competing with, so it’s important that you get your reformulation right.

Catering is a great avenue to explore in order to develop new products, and many savoury products can be made out of croissant and bread dough. Consumers are looking for exciting products, such as hors d’oeuvres and canapes. There are lots of interesting flavours and ingredients that can be presented in this form that are good in both warm and cold weather.

Last, but not least, molecular cuisine is something we will likely see making its way into the world of bread. Molecular cuisine combines the knowledge of scientific chemicals with various ingredients in order to create versions of foods or cuisines, such as powders that taste like peanut butter or foie gras. Molecular cuisine will likely be showing up in breadmaking soon, so familiarizing yourself with the basics now might just put you ahead of this growing trend.

Remember that new trends are not always about products. The way you present your goods can also reflect trends. Be creative with your packaging, product sizes and the way you decorate your products.

If you are looking for inspiration, I would recommend that you go yourself, or send your staff, to some of the food shows held in cities around the world. This is the best way to keep your employees on top of what’s happening in the industry. For 30 years, I have visited the major food shows, and I must say, that is the only way to be sure you’re aware of the hottest trends.

Whether you’re a trend setter or a trend follower, keep your eyes open to what your competition is up to, and your ears tuned to what your custumers are asking for. It’s the best way to stay on top of the goings-on in a very competitive market.


Mario Fortin is an international bakery consultant and owner of FORMA-LAB, a consulting service to bakers and suppliers. If you have a technical problem, send your questions to info@forma-lab.com.


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