Proteins and Fibers, Baker’s New Friends

Proteins and fibers answer all of the consumers’ new desires: functionality, as they want food that supports their active lifestyles; sustainability, because they want to spend their money on planet-positive products, and nostalgia, the yearn for simpler, wholesome times, at least in its food form. Three specialists in proteins and fibers explore the implications of these new trends on the baking industry and how bakers can seize the momentum.

Teresa Polli – Sr. Global Marketing Manager, Nuts by ofi and Kathryn Morris – Technical Manager, Nuts by ofi, explore how nut-based bakery ingredients can help bakers appeal to a broader market.

In a world of narrowing market niches and increased fragmentation, it can be hard for bakery brands to please everyone. Consumers around the world are demanding more from food producers, particularly in terms of nutrition and sustainable sourcing. This leaves bakery producers with a dilemma – how do you meet a wide range of consumer needs, while keeping quality and production efficiency high? Whilst being versatile, nutritious and a source of plant-based protein, nut flours and protein powders allow manufacturers to appeal to a broad range of consumer discernment. We explore three current consumer trends, and how ‘going nutty’ could unlock them all for bakery brands.

Protein, Protein, Protein

In the current health-conscious climate, it’s not just athletes who are making protein intake a priority. In 2020, 39% of global consumers said they intended to increase their protein consumption, and demand has only accelerated since. ofi’s range of nut protein powders, made by cold-pressing raw, whole or blanched nuts, was specifically designed to help bakery producers create delicious functional products with increased protein content. The blanched almond protein powder, for example, contains upwards of 39g of protein per 100g of product, while the cashew protein powder contains about 28g. This is a vast increase compared with wheat flour, which contains just 10g of protein per 100g.

Protein content is not the only advantage nut powders offer bakery brands. Packed with healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron, not to mention formulation advantages like improved moisture retention, nut protein powders are a good alternative ingredient for formulating functional cookies, cakes, crackers and snacks. 

Sound Sustainability Credentials 

Shoppers want to know where their foods come from and increasingly expect brands to do more to improve the ethical, environmental and even social impact of their products. Nut-based ingredients benefit from the ‘eco-halo’ associated with plant-based proteins. But conversations still remain about how suppliers can resolve critical issues within the nut supply chains, such as poverty, climate action, deforestation and water consumption. Through our action in driving forward sustainable, collaborative and traceable ingredients sourcing, ofi is playing its part in striving to make nut ingredients better for consumers, farmers and the planet. Our Almond, Cashew and Hazelnut Trail sustainability programs, for instance, define a broad set of targets in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Natural, Nostalgic and Wholesome

These ingredients also offer consumers a valuable sense of reassurance. Their keto-friendliness and status as Kosher, Halal and vegan certified means manufacturers can develop indulgent baked goods that don’t require consumers to compromise on their personal values or dietary preferences. Nut-based ingredients also align with the growing demand for ‘clean label’ products. As an example, snack manufacturers can replace the hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) and sugar in wafer biscuit cream fillings with nut protein powder – creating an equally rich taste simply by using nuts. 
Nuts have been long used as a staple ingredient. Thousands of traditional recipes from around the world feature nuts as a star player, giving them a nostalgic, rustic and even comforting connotation for many. By including these familiar, well-loved ingredients in their baked products, manufacturers can give consumers a small taste of home or history – something that’s especially important in today’s turbulent times. 

Raluca Florea, Gut Health Leader Health & wellbeing, Puratos, reflects on bread as a dietary staple bridging the fiber gap, based on the new trends in baking ingredients.

You can read the rest of this article in the July-August issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here

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