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Bread & Grain Trends

Insights, Innovation and Market News


U.K. Grocers Sell Cheaper “Fauxdough” Bread In Place Of Expensive Sourdough

British Millennials love sourdough bread, which is more nutritious and easier to digest than conventional offerings. So the classic bread has become very popular in the U.K. Popular but, it turns out, very expensive: about $5 per bakery loaf. Which is why sales of cheaper sourdough bread at grocery stores are on the rise. But according to British consumer watchdog Which?, just four out of the 19 supermarket sourdough loaves tested contained the traditional four ingredients: flour, water, salt and what’s known as a mother or starter culture. Many of the loaves – dubbed “fauxdough” – contained yeast, ascorbic acid, yogurt and vinegar, added to speed up the rising process, boost volume or create sour flavor. And they defeat the purpose of eating the more healthful sourdough.[Image Credit: © GAIL's]

Bakeries See Upsurge In Instagram-Ready, Alcohol-Infused Desserts

The Millennial fondness for unusual flavors and exotic cocktails – coupled with Instagram mania – have produced a wave of new and photogenic baked goods laced with alcohol. A baking industry website says bakeries are seeing increased demand for premium desserts “inspired by alcoholic beverages.” Cakes may be drizzled with sweet liqueurs and their fillings spiked with alcoholic beverages. Manhattan’s Doughnut Project sells handcrafted doughnuts infused with booze. Another spiked treat is the “Instagram-ready” Chandonut Rosé, featuring a Chandon sparkling rosé glaze covering a Bourbon Eggnog doughnut.[Image Credit: © The Doughnut Project]


Kellogg Plans To Back Out Of The Cookie Business

Kellogg Company plans to sell its cookie and snack fruit businesses to concentrate on its core product lines. On the auction block will be Keebler, Famous Amos, and Mother's and Murray cookie brands along with the Stretch Island fruit snack brand. In January 2019, the company will begin to revamp its organizational structure to improve core product market share. Kellogg hopes the move will provide “top-line growth” for the company. The structural changes will include consolidation of its morning foods, snacks, and frozen food businesses – representing about 80 percent of U.S. revenue – into single product categories. The company is also: placing a new emphasis on e-commerce; reorganizing its sales teams and making changes in its supply chain.[Image Credit: © Kellogg NA Co]

Dietitians Help Company Educate Consumers On Benefits Of Prebiotic Foods

California-based Freedom Foods has boosted the marketing of its nutritional bars and cereals by working with registered dietitians in retail stores and in communities. Freedom’s products, sold in more than 2,000 U.S., feature BarleyMax. a grain packed with prebiotic-resistant starch and fiber. The company realized early that selling a prebiotic food requires consumer education. Working with dietitians, Freedom Food is spreading the word about the benefits of Barley+ products through 28-day gut reboot camps, first tested at 12 ShopRite stores in New Jersey. The camps are basically health and lifestyle programs that advocate consumption of Barley+ products as a way to eat more whole grains. The company says RDs are also “relatable and approachable practitioners,” have strong relationships with local television news and talk shows, and contribute to the company’s social media programs.[Image Credit: © https://freedomfoodsus.com/]

Pastry Chefs, A Dying Breed, Battle Headwinds With Creativity, Innovation

A post-recession return to homier desserts coupled with rising restaurant labor and operating costs have been rough on the nation’s pastry chefs. In fact, pastry chefs appear to be a dying breed at today’s upscale restaurants. To fight the trend, survivors have re-imagined old-fashioned, all-American pies and layer cakes, using alternative grains and sweeteners, imported herbs, and forms that give the desserts a new look. To save money, however, today’s desserts tend to be large-format and therefore more economical than complexly plated individual ones. Today’s dwindling community of pastry chefs knows that they have to make dessert seem essential by rethinking comfort and indulgence while still offering a taste of nostalgia.[Image Credit: © Milktooth]

USDA Awards Grant To Fund Development Of a Kelp Additive For Bread

The USDA has awarded $600,000 to Maine-based company VitaminSea to help develop a kelp-based additive for bread. The company received a grant last year to prove the feasibility of adding kelp to bread; the new funding will finance development of a prototype through partnerships with bakeries that will develop recipes and work on market testing. According to a project summary, commercialization of the kelp additive has the potential to "provide the nutritional benefits of consuming seaweed to a large population." [Image Credit: © VitaminSea Seaweed]

Collaboration Results In Creation Of “Solid Beer”

Both beer and bread rely on similar grains – barley, rye, wheat – along with yeast to come up with related flavors. A California bakery is now ratcheting up the relationship with the help of a brewery to create bread that could be called “solid beer.” Butcher’s Daughter bread and pastry chef Perry Ledesma worked with Lars Larson, brewmaster at Berkeley brewery Trumer Pils, to come up with a bread that even includes a hint of hops, the aromatic flower that gives beer its distinctive bitterness but can overwhelm a loaf of bread. Trial and error, however, led to the successful creation of Toasted Barley Honey, along with sourdough with Hops Fleur (brushed with toasted barley brown butter), and a whole wheat with Hops Levain. The brewmaster and the baker expect this marriage baked in heaven to someday become a national phenomenon.[Image Credit: © The Butcher’s Daughter]

Weekend Baking Rises As An Antidote To Rising Anxiety Levels

Time-strapped Millennials are known somewhat infamously for a lack of interest in “things kitchen.” Meaning, of course, that they’re “less likely to come home every night in time to roast a chicken instead of ordering takeout.” But that trend has given rise to another phenomenon: an upsurge in weekend baking. Many hard-working Millennials have turned to weekend baking as “a salve for the ambient anxiety of being alive in 2018,” because baking actually can be really relaxing. Forty percent of Americans report feeling more anxious in 2018 than they did in 2017.  Baking is a particularly effective activity for those whose professional lives exist mostly in the abstract. Baking forces a person to put down the phone, get your hands dirty, and pay close attention to what you're doing – activities that directly affect mood, like meditation and breathing exercises.[Image Credit: © David Greenwood-Haigh from Pixabay]

California Celebrities Into Paleo, Keto, Etc., Have Found The Perfect Source

A Los Angeles bakery heartily endorsed by singer/songwriter/actress Mandy Moore has achieved success by catering to her celebrity friends and others who want grain-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free baked treats, including wedding cakes. The menu of Sweet Laurel, founded by two Santa Monica natives, is especially sensitive to the paleo, vegan, and keto diets followed by upscale residents of communities like Malibu and Beverly Hills. Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas built their customer base – including, besides Moore, Molly Sims, Haylie Duff, and Lauren Conrad – by hosting private classes based on the recipes in their cookbook. They recently opened a vintage style brick-and-mortar bakery in the Palisades, which is themed to look like an English garden inside a jewel box.[Image Credit: © Sweet Laurel Bakery.]

The Decline Of The Tortilla In Mexico Signifies Broader, Deeper Social Ills

In a tiny city southeast of Mexico City in the state of Oaxaca, a unionized group of handmade tortilla producers is fighting keep the Millennia-old tradition alive in the face of cheap competition. The inexpensive versions sold in the city’s 25 tortillería shops are made with industrially produced masa harina, or corn flour, like Gruma’s Maseca. The larger problem is that Mexicans in cities and in the countryside are simply eating fewer tortillas, and eating more bread and fast food. Consumption has dropped nearly 45 percent in the last 35 years to 125 pounds per person in 2016 from 225 pounds in 1982. Experts say the perilous state of the tortilla is a red alert for Mexico's wider social ills, including obesity, poverty and emigration.[Image Credit: © RociH from Pixabay]


As Legality Spreads, Cannabis-Based Cooking, Baking Is On The Rise

According to a report from Seattle-based marijuana research firm Headset Inc., one of the fastest-growing ways consumers use marijuana is to infuse into meals and baked goods at home. In Washington and California, as many as 15-25 percent of cannabis users incorporated the plant into home-cooked meals: double the percentage reported in 2015. Cooking with cannabis at home can be fun, but it requires meticulous attention to detail because marijuana can’t be infused into food from its raw, flowery form. The cannabinoids and terpenes must be activated via a heating process called decarboxylation. A key skill for marijuana chefs and bakers to learn is preparation of a key cooking ingredient:  cannabutter, whose butter to decarboxylated cannabis ratio is 16:1. [Image Credit: © Headset Inc. Cannabis Intelligence]

Once Considered Only Fit For Animals, Sorghum Makes Its Way Into The U.S. Diet

Gluten-free fans take note: sorghum, a whole grain commonly used for animal feed and ethanol production, is starting to make its way into the human diet.  An abundant crop in the U.S. – the largest producer in the world – sorghum is known for its natural drought tolerance and versatility but is also nutritious and gluten-free. It has been introduced into a variety of popular American foods, including Kind bars, Kellogg's cereals, and Ronzoni pastas as an “ancient grain.” Research has shown that some types of sorghum are rich in antioxidants that may help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some neurological diseases.[Image Credit: © Vijaya narasimha from Pixabay]

Gluten-Free Fans Should Consider Flours Made With Cassava, Teff

Consumers with celiac disease who need to avoid gluten and others who are trying to eliminate gluten from their diet should look into using flour made from the root vegetable cassava or the African grain teff.  As consumers explore regional African and Latin American cuisines in the upcoming year, they may begin experimenting with cassava and teff flours.  A gluten-free eatery in Chicago bakes cheese into cassava flour, a staple in Ecuador, to make a cheese bread that is served at the restaurant. And the owner of an Ethiopian restaurant in Falls Church, Va., says that naturally gluten-free teff is a staple in her country. Meaza Zemedu says that in Ethiopia, they use teff to bake muffins, cakes, and bread.[Image Credit: © Brett Hondow from Pixabay]


U.K. To Finally Act On Folic Acid Fortification Of Flour

British Prime Minister Theresa May is backing a plan to add folate supplement to bread flour to stem the tide of neural tube defects occurring in early stage fetuses: at least two pregnancies a week are terminated because of the defect, which leads to conditions like spina bifida. The U.K. has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in Europe; folic acid fortification could help alleviate the problem. The Royal College of Midwives has urged the government to introduce mandatory fortification “as soon as possible.” Senior British government sources suggest the change could be made a reality within weeks. [Image Credit: © Hanjörg Scherzer from Pixabay]

Research & Insights

The Science Of Tasty Whole Wheat Bread Marches On

The mission of wheat geneticists and other grain professionals at the Washington State University Bread Lab is to breed wheat for whole wheat flour that actually tastes good and that people would actually want to eat, not just satisfy a dietary recommendation. Breeding wheat for flavor is something of a new concept. Wheat breeders usually aim for traits like right height for mechanized harvesting, right texture for mechanized baking, and high yield. In their search for flavor, the Bread Lab researchers have identified one new wheat – Skagit 1109 – that makes a reliably tasty whole wheat bread called the “Approachable Loaf.” A group of 40 bakers, millers, breeders, and others met this summer to test-bake the loaf they've been discussing and fine-tuning for the last two years – with satisfying results.[Image Credit: © Pezibear from Pixabay]
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