Lighter enjoyment: Trends and innovation in breads & pasta

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17 Apr 2018 --- Lightness in alcohol content, sweetness, flavor and texture, as well as portion size, is gaining momentum in food and beverages as consumers continue to look for ways to eat and drink more healthily and light, yet still fully enjoy what they love. Innova Market Insights tipped the no. 2 trend for 2018 as “Lighter enjoyment,” and it’s evident how a less-is-more attitude is trending in a wide range of food and beverage categories. But how does lighter enjoyment translate when it comes to carbs, in particular breads and pasta? 

Like in many other categories, the shift in consumer preferences for healthier food has permeated breads and pasta - especially because these two food items are often described as “carbohydrate demons” at a time when so-called “carbophobia” is impacting sales of traditional breads and pasta. 

Breads and pasta have also taken a hit by the sheer volume of global consumers looking for gluten-free products. And while many believe the gluten avoidance for weight loss is destined to be a passing fad, digestive complaints remain common and the apparent correlation between irritable bowel syndrome and gluten-containing cereals - the likes of which are found in breads and pasta – will be a reason for many people to avoid these foods in the long term.

Click to EnlargeNevertheless, seeing as grain-based foods are such a significant source of fiber, particularly inwestern diets and since low dietary fiber intakes are a major public health concern, cereal foods are not in danger of losing their relevance any time soon. 

Having said that, innovators have had to find ways to create versions of breads and pasta that pack a healthier punch, have a much better carbohydrate profile and, in some cases a free-from and cleaner label.

The leading health claim for bread is whole grains, which was used for 12 percent of H2 2017 launches, making it the number two positioning overall, according to Innova Market Insights data. Multigrain, seeded and ancient grain products all continue to be popular, often associated with fiber content and sometimes with protein.

No additives/preservatives follows, used for 11 percent of launches, with vegetarian on 9 percent. Vegan claims are also seeing strong growth but from a smaller base.

Meanwhile, health claims that are on the rise for plain pasta with vitamin and mineral fortified among the fastest growing claims in H1 2017, according to Innova. Plain pasta and noodles is the top sub-category within ready meals category.

During 2012 to 2017, pasta and noodles total NPD increased at 8.6 percent CAGR, while sales value and volume growth averaged at 3.7 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. Pasta being regarded as a staple in many countries and increasing number of launches with health benefits such as gluten-free, whole wheat, and low sodium are aiding growth.
                           
Innovation trends and NPD
Artisan 
Innovation opportunities are relatively limited in comparison with some other bakery subcategories, but a key growth area is that of artisan-style breads, based on traditional ingredients and/or recipes and/or production methods. 

Dubbed the “wheat of the future” Germany's largest flour mills Group, GoodMills Innovation launched its new product 2ab Wheat a few months back. This grain innovation is easy to process and allows both artisan and industrial bakers to produce wholesome bakery products with a convincing texture and taste. 

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2ab Wheat is a real alternative to modern bread wheat as well as to well-known ancient grains such as einkorn or emmer. Given its excellent baking properties, 2ab Wheat flour is ideal for artisan bakers as well as for industrial production. Baked goods are well tolerated, even by food-sensitive eaters, and offer a full-bodied taste and a soft, lush golden crumb.

Meanwhile, there are some interesting ingredients pushing up pasta’s appeal, away from the traditional pasta formats which remain popular. 
Pasta makeovers include ingredients such as black beans, lentils, and on-trend ancient grains like quinoa. These all add a new dimension to pasta NPD. 

New product developments
Some recent consumer-facing bread products include Coop Volkoren Wholegrain Bread in the Netherlands (introduced Nov 2017) which is a half loaf of sliced whole grain bread in a plastic packet. 

Deldia Pan Artesanal: Artisan Sliced Bread has been introduced to the Colombian market. Artisan sliced bread in a plastic packet. Softness and traditional flavor.

And in Switzerland, Coop Pain De Campagne Fonce Cuit Au De Bois: Countryside Dark Baked Bread has also hit the shelves. This rustic dark baked bread comes in a 500g paper packet. Traditional crafts and 100 percent natural ingredient. FSC certified.

Notice that all three of these products, although introduced in different markets, are packaged in see-through plastic or paper. 

Some examples of pasta products with protein and fiber claims include Canada’s Compliments Pasta Plus Fibre Penne Rigate Pasta. It’s described “as penne rigate pasta made from durum wheat semolina, with fiber. Very high source of fiber. Enjoy the same taste and preparation as regular pasta with the benefit of fiber.”

In the US, Weis Whole Grain Rotini is made with 51 percent whole wheat. A low fat and low sodium food and an excellent source of fiber.

Sustainable breads & pasta
Dutch start-up Seamore has recently launched its seaweed wrap. Algae is considered highly sustainable because it doesn’t need pesticides, fertilizers, land or fresh water to grow. And seaweed is packed with protein. 

Having already launched the seaweed version of tagliatelle and even bacon slices, the tortilla wraps made with 50 percent seaweed sourced from Ireland and France, are the company’s first foray into processed foods with big things expected from these on-trend, convenient, cost-effective wraps. 

Conclusion 
Catalyzed by a desire to enjoy quality over quantity, trends in carbs center around health, pleasure, convenience and snacking. 

Consumer interest in health is driving NPD and so related health claims are important including protein and fiber, while whole grain and ancient grains are significant in breads. Tradition and authenticity also remain important in both pasta and breads. Meanwhile, free-from claims and other allergy claims are significant, particularly in North America. 

By Gaynor Selby

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