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07/10/2022 – Baking Focus / ADM / Ingredients / Innovation

BAKED-IN BENEFITS – The rise in functional baked goods

Multinational food processor ADM is a dominant innovator and globally leading supplier of ingredients for bakery developers. Here, subject matter expert Bastian Hörmann – Global Marketing Director for Sweet Food, Dairy, and Specialized Nutrition at ADM – describes the explosion of interest in functional baked goods and snacks in recent years, the consumer behaviours driving this dynamic, and the innovative solutions that ADM’s nutritional experts are formulating in response to such flourishing demand.

Q. Broadly speaking, could you describe the origins of ADM’s presence in the functional ingredients for baked goods space, and the market opportunity identified, alongside how the firm’s activities have evolved?

Bastian Hörmann: “Our robust portfolio of ingredients – including milled products, flavours, colours, oils, emulsifiers, sweetening solutions and alternative proteins – is deeply rooted in our history, as is our commitment to developing innovative ingredients for bakery developers. Coupling our vast ingredient library with our formulation expertise helps our customers develop baked goods and snacks with quality ingredients that address consumers’ needs.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen the functional baked goods and snacks space explode in response to consumers’ desires for purposeful indulgence. Much of this trend can be tied back to the uncertainty and turbulence around the global pandemic, as consumers turned to treats as a form of self-care. A reported 51 per cent of European consumers say they are more conscious of their mental well-being because of COVID-19(1). Emotional well-being is also top of mind as many consumers turn to comfort food as a form of self care for moments of escapism and to alleviate stress.

“While snack foods and bakery items are often enjoyed as a reward or to satisfy a craving, consumers are also trying to balance purposeful indulgence with an increased focus on health and wellness. For instance, 65 per cent of global consumers say it’s okay to occasionally enjoy indulgent treats as part of a healthy diet(2), and in Germany, 55 per cent of snack consumers say they mostly try to buy snacks they perceive as healthy(3). This can also be seen in lifestyle diets, such as keto or gluten-free. With our technical and market insights, we help baked goods brands stay ahead of trends and deliver functional offerings that meet consumers demands’ today and tomorrow.”

Q. Have you observed any recent innovations in the area of functional baked goods for sports and enhanced physical performance market?

“The active nutrition category has accelerated over the past several years, as more consumers look to improve their holistic well-being with functional snacks. Active nutrition can be enjoyed by consumers from varying life stages and lifestyles with short-term goals to support healthy everyday choices, as well as proactive approaches to support healthy ageing and overall well-being. In fact, over the last two years, nearly 82 per cent of global consumers looked to improve their overall health, with 52 per cent saying they adopted a more long-term approach to their health(4).

“Bakery items are also working their way into the fold, as consumers seek out and include certain ingredients with various wellness-related characteristics into their daily routines. For example, nearly 40 per cent of consumers in the EMEA region have consumed baked goods with added protein more frequently as a snack or as part of a meal(5). In Europe, common forms of snacks are being ‘upgraded’, including new product launches that pair ingredients with perceived better-for-you attributes with consumers’ favourite treats. Think protein-packed chocolate chip cookies, crackers made with spinach, beetroot and kidney beans, and fibre-forward fruit and vegetable-based jelly-filled biscuits. 

“Through our expansive ingredient line-up, we support bakers in fulfilling consumers’ desire for functional ingredients in their baked goods and treats. For instance, we have concepted purposeful indulgent treats, such as mint and chocolate chip cookies created with our pea and soy proteins, as well as Fibersol®*, our soluble dietary fibre created by ADM/Matsutani LLC. Ingredients like these open the door for more baked good possibilities that satisfy active nutrition consumers’ demands.” 

Q. Weight-friendly remains a key health goal for many consumers. What recent ingredient/product innovations in the functional baked goods space assist in this?

“Consumers are increasingly making connections between their weight and the way they feel and function. For many, weight awareness can involve a variety of factors that affect physical and emotional well-being, with consumers actively seeking out solutions that meet their specific needs. Many of these consumers are also becoming more aware of the correlation between their weight and how it positively or negatively impacts their overall metabolic health. 

“Our research shows that 58 per cent of global consumers perceive a connection between the function of bacteria in the gut to wider aspects of well-being(6). In turn, microbiome-supporting solutions like prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics are highly sought after across categories, including functional baked goods, as consumers connect them to a wide range of wellness benefits, such as gut health and weight management(7). On top of that, 52 per cent of UK consumers not currently using probiotics state that they would be interested in buying probiotic products, across foods, beverages and dietary supplements, in the future(7).

“As consumers connect the dots between the gut microbiome and overall well-being, we’re continually researching to uncover new microbial strains and solutions. For example, our BPL1™** (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT 8145) strain targets factors that may be linked to metabolism(8), such as body composition. Plus, its heat-treated counterpart, BPL1™ HT, can withstand harsh processing conditions like high heat that make it ideal for incorporating into baked goods****. Dietary fibre is another functional option that can support digestion and aspects related to weight management. ADM/Matsutani LLC’s Fibersol® can be used in numerous food or beverage applications without affecting taste or texture, and it requires very little formulation and process adjustments. Studies also suggest Fibersol® promotes the growth of gut microbes(9), (10) and helps reduce blood sugar spikes after a meal in individuals with normal blood sugar levels(11),(12).

“Additionally, sugar reduction can play a role in weight management strategies, as it can aid in calorie reduction. Since baked goods can derive a large portion of their total calories from added sugars, many shoppers are enticed by baked goods that have low total added sugars. However, since sugar provides key functionality and mouthfeel, in addition to sweetness, formulation challenges can arise when sugar is removed or reduced. Our robust portfolio of low- and no-calorie sweeteners helps reduce sugar and calories, while maintaining a delicious sensory experience for finished baked goods. Plus, our holistic approach to sugar reduction is not only designed to simply reduce sugars, but to also replace sweetness, rebalance flavour and rebuild functionality to ensure sweet success every time.”

Q. Sustainability is increasingly on the radar of consumers. Does this trend influence the functional baked goods market, in your opinion?

“Consumer focus on their favourite brands’ sustainability efforts spans product categories – including baked goods. In fact, 73 per cent of global consumers say they feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products are made, raised or grown(13). As ‘clean labels’ become more appealing, consumers are shopping based on their values and seeking out recognisable, simple and closer-to-nature ingredients derived from natural sources, such as plants, fruit, vegetables or botanicals. Baked goods brands that share stories about their sustainability efforts and are transparent about incorporating sustainably sourced ingredients into their products are poised to attract conscientious consumers. For example, through our joint venture with a farmer co-operative in Madagascar, we source vanilla beans with enhanced transparency and digital traceability. Vanilla extract is a key ingredient for many baked goods, and with our quality options, we help bakery brands have an edge with consumers.”

Q. What other consumer trends can you identify today in relation to the baked goods market? Moreover, how can ADM support baked goods manufacturers, and help them to leverage upon such trends?

“Lifestyle diets, such as plant-based, gluten-free or keto, continue to intrigue many consumers, impacting the baked goods sector. Meeting the requirements needed for these different diets presents a unique set of hurdles and opportunities for formulators.


“Consumers are seeking more plant-based and high protein options, and incorporating plant proteins into baked goods and snacks can be challenging for formulators looking to create baked items that have the same quality, taste, texture and functionality as traditional baked goods. Our MaxFlex™ systems of pea with wheat and pea with rice protein blends are excellent solutions for functional baked goods, as they provide on-trend protein diversity with higher PDCAAS scores (0.89-0.95) than the individual protein sources can offer. By using these blends, formulators can easily achieve pleasing sensory attributes for delectable plant-forward baked goods and snacks.

“For gluten-free baked goods, removing gluten completely from speciality bakery formulations is more complicated than a simple one-to-one substitution. With insight from our food scientists, we help formulators navigate these complexities by separating out individual components, considering the goals of the finished product, and then making recommendations that enhance the process. This holistic approach helps ensure gluten-free baked goods offer taste, texture and functionality to rival conventional counterparts. Our pantry of gluten-free solutions enables us to choose ingredients or ingredient blends that will achieve optimal texture and functionality for an array of baked good applications, from breads to cakes, cookies and more.

“Consumers practising keto eating patterns tend to have high awareness of excess sugars while prioritising gut health – a combination that can pose greater challenges to formulators. Baked goods that target other better-for-you attributes can also pose formulation complications, since they may conflict with keto parameters. For example, if a baked good is pursuing low-fat claims, it directly contradicts the keto eating plan. Vital wheat glutens that are high in protein but low in carbohydrates are important for keto-friendly baked goods to keep the products’ expected rise, shape and texture while also meeting keto constraints. We have a wide variety of solutions that can help meet keto diet targets. From starches to dietary fibres, oils, proteins and sweetening solutions, we leverage our full pantry for a holistic formulation approach to help brands bring keto-friendly options to life.”

Footnotes and references

*Fibersol® is a trademark registered for ADM/Matsutani LLC in the US.

**BPL1® is a trademark registered for Biopolis S.L. in the EU and other countries.

***Local regulations must be reviewed to confirm permissibility of ingredients for each food category.

1 FMCG Gurus, How Has COVID-19 Changed Consumer Behavior, March 2021

2 FMCG Gurus, Top Ten Trends for 2022, January 2022

3 Mintel, A Year of Innovation in Salty Snacks and Fruit Mixes, 2022

4 FMCG Gurus, “Overview of the Sports Nutrition Market and the Growth of the Active Nutrition Consumer, October 2021

5 FMCG Gurus, Active Nutrition Global Regional Survey, 2021

6 ADM Outside VoiceSM

7 ADM/Buzzback report, Microbiome Consumer Exploratory, 2021

8 Pedret, A; et al. (2019) Int J Obes (Lond). 43(9):1863‐1868

9 Mai, V. (2012). Clin Microbiol Infect, 18(Suppl. 4), 62-66

10 Burns, A. (2018). Nutrition Research, 60, 33-42 

11 Unno, T. (2002). J. Nutr. Food, 5(2), 31-39

12 Livesey, G. (2009). Am. J. Clin Nutr., 89, 114-125

13 Nielsen, What’s In Our Food and On Our Mind

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
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