Rising to the Challenge: How the Global Bakery Industry Is Adopting Sustainable and Efficient Solutions

by Bert Strubbe, Senior Technical Service Manager, DSM Food & Beverage

Bread has been part of our diets for thousands of years. The staple food has since gone through thousands of iterations and remains an essential part of most diets around the world. It’s unsurprising then, that the global bakery market is showing no signs of slowing down and is projected to grow to over USD672bn by 2026. Despite this positive outlook, the baked foods category has been subjected to unprecedented levels of disruption in recent years. From COVID-19 to the more recent global geopolitical crisis and widespread inflation, these events have affected everything, including ingredient availability, product distribution and pricing. 

Meanwhile, consumers are demanding more from their bakery products. People want their baked goods to have a satisfying taste and texture, while being sustainable, aligning with the latest trends in health and nutrition and – crucially – remaining an affordable source of nutrition. There’s also emerging interest in products with organic and gluten-free claims, as well as options that support immunity and low FODMAP diets. The bakery industry has a big job to satisfy these multiple consumer priorities against the tumultuous global setting. By working together on innovative solutions, we can ensure robust supply chains with great tasting, nutritious baked goods that stay fresher for longer and are created sustainably. 

Current Market Landscape

Two of the biggest challenges facing bakers today are the high costs of ingredients and adapting to more sustainable practices. The pandemic sent ripples throughout the food industry; border closures around the world led to severe supply chains disruptions, making it more difficult to access the right raw materials. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders also disrupted the global workforce, as reduced manpower in the harvests resulted in less produce. This supply chain disruption is now compounded by rising fuel costs. 

The bakery sector has also been affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, adding more volatility to the global supply of grain and sunflower oil. Combined, Russia and Ukraine export one third of the world’s wheat supplies, so the regions affected must look for alternative sources for grain imports. For example, although the US, EU and Australia are likely to be self-sufficient in wheat production, Africa relies heavily on Ukrainian and Russian wheat. With growing strain on the bakery industry supply chain, it is no surprise that the prices of ingredients like grain, emulsifiers and ascorbic acid, are highly volatile. This is putting more pressure on millers and bakers to find innovative ingredient and manufacturing solutions. 

At the same time, there is ever-growing consumer awareness about the impact food production has on the environment. In fact, in 2022 the health of the planet is overtook health of people as consumers’ top priority. Food waste is one sustainability issue that disproportionately affects the baked goods industry. One third – approximately 1.3 billion tons – of food produced for human consumption lost or wasted every year and bread is one of the most frequently wasted items. Fortunately, there are innovative enzyme solutions that help bakers tackle these two significant challenges at the same time.

Overcoming Barriers 

There is an opportunity to use enzyme solutions to overcome these widespread challenges and boost processing efficiencies in bakery applications – helping to reduce cost pressures. Ascorbic acid, for example, is an important ingredient to optimize gluten performance, but with costs still extremely volatile, there is a pressing need to look for more cost-effective options. As well as offering its own ascorbic acid solution, DSM provides a blend of alternative enzymes that can reduce ascorbic acid dosages in bread, while still maintaining an appealing texture and volume. 

Similarly, a lipid shortage is contributing to higher prices for emulsifiers – an important ingredient for dough conditioning. For bakers looking for a replacement of emulsifiers, such as DATEM, SSL, and CSL, DSM’s Panamore® range of enzymes can offer an alternative. They can help improve dough tolerance, baking performance, crumb structure, softness, and volume, while preserving the quality and consistency of the finished product – whether it is a baguette or pan bread.

Vital wheat gluten is another ingredient significantly affecting bakery production costs, which is why flour millers and improvers are looking for ways to reduce the amount of gluten in their formulations. This can be done in a number of ways, including using a natural enzymatic solution or the tools to develop one, such as glucose oxidase or lipase. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every recipe; close collaboration is key to tailor each formulation to meet bakers’ specific needs. 

Enzymes: a Novel Way to Reduce Food Waste 

When it comes to addressing consumers’ demands for more sustainable solutions, baking producers are eager to find new ways to extend the freshness and moisture of bread, to help cut food waste. Enzymes, such as maltogenic amylase, for example, are gaining traction for helping to produce bread with increased softness and crumb structure. This also extends the shelf life of products, by delaying the firming of the bread crumb. Adding 10-20 ppm of DSM’s Bakezyme® Master enables bread to last for two to four weeks, before reaching the levels of hardness found in breads made without using maltogenic amylase, which is typically three to five days. Baking enzymes, combined with application expertise, are helping bakeries to adapt to having to use different types of flour or reduce egg usage, all while still providing the desired fresh and nutritious baked goods that consumers expect. 

Better Together

Global events in recent years are putting increasing pressure on bakers and millers for a fast, agile response – alongside growing consumer demand for baked goods that look and taste great, are manufactured sustainably and offer high-quality nutrition. Despite these pressing needs, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. For example, gluten and emulsifier reduction cannot be done at the same time. Working together on these priorities will not only help to overcome the industry’s challenges but also enable baking producers to work more efficiently. 

Collaborating with a reliable partner, like DSM, can also help bring a fresh perspective to common bakery issues. With the right support, producers can share knowledge and experience to create longer lasting, more sustainable bakery products that keep consumers coming back for more.

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