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Staying ahead of the trends in bakery [Interview]

Article-Staying ahead of the trends in bakery [Interview]

Richard Charpentier.jpeg
To deliver on consumer expectations towards bakery products, more healthy options are required, but reformulating bakery products successfully is not an easy feat. Introducing different ingredients means a plethora of functionalities, and interactions with other ingredients may vary widely. It is therefore essential to balance the formula correctly. We caught up with Richard Charpentier, classically trained French baker and Certified Master Baker with a degree in Baking Science, to learn a bit more about some of the current bakery trends, what innovative ingredients he’s been working with, and the reformulation challenges that need to be addressed.

As a classically trained French baker, what changes have you seen in the industry? What benefits and downsides do you see in these innovations?

“I believe the industry was forced to rethink its strategy on how to deliver fresh, healthy food options, with better quality ingredients and ample shelf life, as well as good packaging to allow for distribution. Consumers now have more time to cook and bake daily, creating a demand for new innovative ingredients. The benefits include a captivated audience who is willing to explore and buy new products, which means more sales opportunities for retailers and manufacturers.”

How are you supporting companies in their new product development? What types of bakery products do you usually work with?

“I support my clients with their product development needs by creating speed to market innovation. Being able to quickly create and launch innovation is key. The types of products I get requests for are clean label solutions (i.e. removing unnecessary ingredients), shelf life extension, increasing proteins in baked goods, and sugar reduction.”

What are the biggest trends in bakery at the moment? What are consumers looking for?

“Snacking or grazing is a trend that I see in the bakery category today, which means consumers want to eat bite-sized, delicious and nutritious bakery snacks, as well as products with more proteins and less sugar.  Consumers are moving away from the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner options, and instead are looking for something new.”

Why add plant-based proteins to bakery products? Is it for the health benefit, or does it also offer a technological function?

“Adding plant-based proteins to bakery products is what consumers want, especially with Gen Z and millennials. They are more concerned about the environment and reducing carbon emissions. Plant-based proteins offer sustainable energy while minimizing the overall footprint on the environment. They offer both emulsifying and binding functionalities, and also provide amazing health benefits and nutrition.”

Is it easy to incorporate plant-based ingredients into bakery products? What are some of the challenges?

“Overall, it is easy to incorporate plant-based proteins into bakery formulations, but in order to do so successfully, it is important to understand how to rebalance a formula properly. You also need to understand the plant-based functionalities and interactions with other ingredients. Challenges in the plant-based category include the lack of data on how to use these plant-based ingredients effectively, and how they interact with other ingredients in terms of taste, texture and shelf life.”

What type of plant-based proteins have you been working with, and which would you recommend?

“I work with almost all commercially available plant proteins, from potato to pea, hemp to pumpkin, and from coffee protein to yeast proteins. Due to their complex amino acid structure, it is recommended to test and validate each individual protein first, and then use several plant proteins in order to create the desired taste and functionality. One favourite protein of mine is hemp protein – it is economical, offers a slight sweetness with no off tastes; it is sustainable, grows fast, has great binding properties, and is easy to digest.”

What are your predictions for the bakery industry over the next 3-5 years?

“I predict that the traditional bakery category of cakes containing high amounts of sugar, white flour and loaded with non-nutritive ingredients will start shrinking, and will forcibly be replaced by better-for-you types of bakery items like proteins, whole grains and reduced sugar. Consumers have an affinity for sugary products because they taste good; yet, these items provide zero nutritional value. Today consumers are demanding healthier options. With the current availability of functional and nutrient-rich ingredients, along with current knowledge on how to make delicious cakes or snacks, my predictions are the bakery industry will embrace the demand for bakery snacks containing superfoods like proteins and ancient grains, that are sustainable, and provide good nutritional values as part of a healthy diet.”

What are your predictions for the F&B industry over the next 3-5 years?

“I think that the F&B industry will see changes as well, including the way in which we dine and how we buy our foods. The data shows that since the beginning of the current pandemic, there has been a 50% jump in food delivery like Grub Hub and Uber Eats. I believe that we will see a resurgence of local wholesale, fresh food types of businesses near cosmopolitan cities, and a need for better packaged RTE food options and snacks for rural areas.”