Growing consumer awareness is driving innovation in bakery

NOT ALL FOODSERVICE BUSINESSES can afford the luxury of a master baker or pastry chef on the premises. But such is the quality of today’s frozen baked good products that it’s easy to “be your own baker” and offer bakery items which smell and taste as though they’ve been made from scratch. 

Specialist suppliers are offering an increasingly diverse range of frozen pre-proven, par and flash bake products and consumer demand is driving continual innovation across this field.

According to John Bryers, Business Unit Director of major frozen baked goods supplier Aryzta Food Solutions Australia, savoury is the biggest trending market segment within bakery right now, both in foodservice businesses and in-store bakeries (ISBs). “A lot of new savoury pastries with unique fillings are coming in,” John tells us, “like spinach and fetta, rocket and tomato, pumpkin and mushroom. They are very much the on-trend flavour profiles. And these are available in a variety of shapes and designs, such as lattice pastries and plaits.” 

The current demand for food on the go -  items which consumers can pick up and snack on while mobile - is being largely driven by savoury baked goods, he adds. “There’s a lot of innovation going on in that area in terms of flavours and mash-ups. And I think the fact that there are quality ingredients going into these products is what’s stimulating the growth and the interest. When they’re baked off again, the aromas are fresh and enticing and that plays a big role in drawing the customer into your premises.”

One of the major shifts in consumer awareness in recent times has been the increasing interest in learning more about the provenance of food and ingredients – where food is sourced, how it’s produced and how far it’s travelled to reach the consumer. Baked goods are no exception to this and utilising products imported from Europe provides the opportunity for foodservice professionals to capitalise upon their heritage of both tradition and reputation for superior quality. 

Products like pastries or danishes from Denmark or croissants from France deliver an authenticity which is very important to an increasing number of consumers.

There’s also a lot of co-branding going on in the marketplace right now and we’re set to see more of this as companies such as chocolate producers leverage the strength of their brands in partnership with bakery suppliers. “Cailler, which is the second oldest Swiss chocolate company in the world, and Bonne Maman jams are both featuring their products in bakery products now,” John tells us. “Coup de Pates Croissants and Bonne Maman have combined to create a jam-filled croissant which is just now hitting the Australian market. We’re also stocking Cailler Chocolate Croissants which are in strong demand.”

Use of free range eggs in bakery items is another example of how provenance is being utiised as a key selling point. “This is a topical point in the Australian market right now. If you stock products like our Mette Munk Pastries, which are authentic Danish pastries from Denmark made with free range eggs and 100 per cent fruit, you’re ticking a lot of boxes for consumers.”

While the market for baked goods produced in accordance with time-honoured European tradition is strong, there’s also a growing demand for gluten free baked goods – which requires suppliers to develop new product formulations that deliver on taste and texture while utilising alternatives to traditional bakery ingredients like wheat flour. It’s also important that these can be packaged in such a way as to prevent the possibility of cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients.

Specialist supplier of French style frozen breads, pastries and sweets Bakers Maison recently launched a six-pack of gluten free muffins in two on-trend flavours – Choc Chip and Raspberry.

“They have a five day shelf life which is a little different from your usual frozen product,” explains Bakers Maison Head of Sales and Marketing Doug Colville. “We decided to launch in a six-pack because it’s a good size for cafes to store easily and the muffins can be placed on a countertop at the front to attract customers. Also, a sealed six-pack ensures there’s no chance of cross-contamination between the time it’s produced and when it’s opened by the end-user.”

In Australia, products labelled gluten free are required by the Food Standards Code to have no detectable gluten and rigorous processes must be in place to ensure this is met. “It’s actually fairly difficult to make baked goods and delicacies like this which are gluten free – there’s a lot of work done behind the scenes to get the flavour profile and texture right and meet all the requirements,” Doug explains. “Our muffins are endorsed by Coeliac Australia which is the organisation supporting people with coeliac disease who have to follow a gluten free diet for life. We put the Coeliac Australia logo on our gluten free muffins to show not only the end-user, but the consumer that the place it was produced is approved by the relevant body.”

Another recent addition to the Bakers Maison range is filled croissants in both Almond and Hazelnut varieties designed for the grab and go snacking market. “In most cafes the Almond Croissants sit at the front of the cabinet and are sized around 200g – we’ve made a slightly smaller option which is more convenient for grab and go, four or five bites and you’re done.”