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Organic bakery products – Trends & prospects
Tuesday, 14 June, 2022, 13 : 00 PM [IST]
Sateesh Kulkarni
Bakery food products are among the most consumed food in the world. While India is among the largest producers and consumers of baked products, the consumption has largely been limited to biscuits and bread. Indian bakery sector has been mostly fragmented.

However, premium bakery brands and bakeries with state of the art technology and niche product offerings are now changing the scenario. Also, as a result of the change in lifestyles brought about by the Covid pandemic, the need for healthy options particularly organic alternatives have come to the fore. This has necessitated the developing of a holistic approach towards identification, procurement, supply and usage of organic bakery ingredients for an expanding organic bakery product sector. Health and wellness alternatives are gaining preference amongst discerning consumers who prefer food and beverages that contain immunity, digestive and other functional characteristics.

The rising trend and emphasis on natural nutrition, healthy living and organic products has significantly raised the consumers’ demand on organically grown, natural and additive-free products. With the changing consumer preferences and health consciousness, the bakery industry is entering a new territory of keeping up with the new challenges. As the food landscape is changing with the adoption of organic food, organic bakery ingredients has emerged as a perfect solution to the organic production of one of the popularly consumed bakery products.

Organic bakery ingredients include all those ingredients which are produced organically or found naturally in animal or plant sources. Organic bakery products typically includes Organic flour & grains, Enzymes, Organic baking powder and starch, Oil and Shortening Ingredients, natural sweeteners and colours and dairy ingredients.

In addition, organic bakery ingredients are considered value-added ingredients that offer health benefits without being detrimental to the human body unlike the risks associated with chemically produced bakery ingredients. For example, wheat flour, one of the most commonly used bakery ingredients, is extracted from the organically produced wheat, this can be used in making of organic bakery products. Other bakery ingredients include the enzymes, emulsifiers, starch, oils, or others that need to have organic or natural properties.

The shift in the consumer preferences towards consuming more health-conscious food has increased the demand for organic bakery products. The health benefits provided by the organic bakery products is also going to increase the demand for organic bakery products. The consumer is becoming more attentive regarding the labelling of the food products as well as aware about the adverse effects of using preservatives and pesticides, which increases the demand for organic food products, leading to an increase of demand for organic bakery products. However, the high price of organic bakery products is restricting the growth of this market.

The organic bakery products market broadly consists of the same product range as the normal bakery items, but made with organic ingredients. The range of this covers Breads & Rolls, Savoury Snacks, Cakes & Pastries and Cookies & Biscuits. One can have now multigrain bread, brown bread, sweet bread or even gluten-free bread of one’s choice. And it is not only breads which have become healthier. The same can be said of biscuits, cakes and pastries. And these products can either be Gluten-free, sugar-free or low-calorie. Organic bakery products are usually made using organic flour, organic butter, organic sugar as well as natural sweeteners. Organic bakery ingredient includes health beneficial properties and thus, increases the nutritional value of the bakery products.

Opportunities and Demand drivers
Increasing consumer preferences towards healthy ingredients is a major driver for the organic bakery products market. The growing urbanization is leading to hectic lifestyles and unhealthy eating options which has resulted in lifestyle disorders and deterioration of health of the consumers. Moreover, the rising disposable income of the population is expected to contribute to the higher demand for organic bakery products in the near future. Therefore, changing consumer preference is forcing manufacturers to switch to the use of organic ingredients such as organic baking powder, gluten-free powder.

The increasing emphasis consumers are placing on healthy and sustainable food choices will shape the future of the bakery industry. The terms Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Keto Friendly, Grain-free & Diabetic Friendly are defining the production of new product offerings.

 Another trend that has emerged in recent years is a preference for homemade items. The vast variety of homemade chocolates that are now available in many metros and have made a niche for themselves points towards the growing demand for such items in the country.

Consumers are insisting on a number of healthy options: gluten-free products, use of seed ingredients such as flax, sesame, sunflower, chia, black poppy, and more recently, watermelon seeds in baked goods viz breads, as a good source of protein and omega-3s, sugar-free or low sugar products.

The use of innovative technology for enhanced taste and flavour is the trend in the organic bakery products manufacturing market. The rising preference for organic bakery products among consumers, owing to their health benefits is motivating manufacturers to use innovative technology and methods to offer new organic bakery products with enhanced taste and flavour. The manufacturers are trying to study new methods to increase the shelf-life of the products such as the use of natural preservatives along with enhanced taste till the time of consumption.

Future Trends and Challenges
The pandemic has accelerated the shift in customer perceptions and preferences. Low carb, high protein, low sugar are now the buzz words for diets; consumption of whole grains has gone up as compared to the pre-pandemic years. Customers are also more conscious about consumption of immunity boosting ingredients and products. In the bakery industry in particular, immune-boosting ingredients such as Beta-glucan, turmeric, omega-3 and -6 acids, and probiotics can be expected to become the other much sought after ingredients.  

Certifying and labelling organic bakery products follows very strict guidelines. For a product to be considered certified organic, the product must not be produced using any genetic engineering, irradiation. Therefore, following all the mandatory guidelines and meeting the certification requirements will emerge as challenges in the organic bakery products market.

Although organic bakery ingredients may provide the potential benefits to health, the high cost of these ingredients will be a key factor to be taken into account. Pricing of the end product will be a major challenge for manufacturers.

The popularity of vegan food as well as demand for eggless and dairy free products presents challenges both in terms of taste, preparation and shelf life.

To meet growing consumer demand for organic options and to convert these into opportunities, the bakery industry must adhere to rigorous manufacturing requirements and secure a reliable supply chain of organic ingredients, all while delivering the delicious sensory experience consumers expect of baked goods.

(The author is a consultant)
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