Bakery surges back after low-carb dip

The baked goods sector, which recorded falling demand in the US and some parts of Europe as the low-carb lifestyle gained prominence from 2001-2004, has not suffered permanent damage, according to new figures from market researcher Datamonitor. ?The US and European bakery and cereals market is recording encouraging growth,? the report stated. ?By providing consumers with premium products and more health-focused produce ? for example wholemeal and granary breads — bakery manufacturers? reaction to health and diet concerns has proved successful.?

The US and European markets for bakery and cereals grew 3.2 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively, in 2004 on the previous year and Datamonitor predicts similar growth rates for 2005 and beyond. ?The surge in sales of functional, organic and fair-trade bakery and cereal products in 2004 demonstrates the modern Western consumer?s concern with health and trade issues and their willingness to act on those concerns,? said Datamonitor analyst Nick Beevors.

Baked goods manufacturers are achieving functionality and bringing products to market in new and innovative ways.

Pizzey?s Milling is a flaxseed ingredients supplier finding many baked goods opportunities being driven by interest in the omega-3 content of its flax offerings. ?We have seen an increase in interest from?cereal companies wanting to put omega-3 into cereals,? said managing director Linda Pizzey. ?Now that some are understanding they can make label claims with omega-3s, we should see a real increase in that market.?

She added: ?I think low-carb was a wake-up call to the bakery industry. The move into the glycaemic index, along with the whole grains movement in the industry, will turn out to be a win for the bakery industry. The American public loves bread too much to give it up.?

Fred Miggins, founder of Manitoba-based baker Maplewood Bake Co, saw the low-carb fad as a potent educator that has had real dietary benefits. ?The low-carb craze brought attention to the negatives associated with simple carbs — white flour and processed white sugar. It forced people to more carefully read the ingredients list on baked goods and has led to consumers understanding you can have delicious baked goods that do not use white flour and white sugar.? People are now more educated and ready to accept better-for-you baked goods. Slow-carbs, whole grain, trans-fat free and??grab and go? are all popular trends we are seeing in the baked goods industry.?

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