Consumer engagement, the organic market and the “gluten conspiracy” were among the key themes at the Australian Society of Baking’s (ASB’s) national conference, held in Melbourne.
In October, the country’s most influential and passionate bakers and equipment manufacturers gathered to hear about the consumer behaviours and technical advances that can help the industry evolve.
The conference was preceded by an industry tour, taking in some of the food capital’s best artisan bakeries and pâtisseries, as well as state-of-the-art ingredient manufacturers and medium-to-large baking businesses.
“The tour took in chocolate artisan The Ministry of Chocolate showcasing locally-grown organic cocoa from Daintree Estates in Far North Queensland, which is the world’s first commercially produced chocolate made from cocoa grown in Australia,” ASB chairman and TAFESA education manager Fee Lee said.
“Melbourne iconic cake, restaurant and gelato specialists, Brunetti’s, was a crowd-pleaser, with Robins Bush Foods showing us an extensive range of ‘bush food’ for bakers to add another dimension to their offerings. We were also lucky enough to get a tour of the Lesaffre yeast plant with the state-of-the-art testing and manufacturing facilities.”
At the conference, a number of presenters – chosen for their expertise in niche areas of the baking industry – spoke on a range of topics including getting more out of dough, the upcoming IBA event and functional bread ingredients.
Allied Mills general manager customer insight and innovation Douglas Southland gave an overview of upcoming global trends in baking, highlighting the fact pastry chefs have achieved rockstar status through the popularity of television shows such as Masterchef.
“People want to be engaged and the theatre of the bakery really gives them something to connect with. There is a sense of authenticity, localism and craftsmanship in an artisan bakery. Bread is the hero – and you just can’t get this in supermarkets,” he said.
Douglas also suggested health benefits will be a strong marketing stance in 2015, continuing from the success of “fresh”, “natural”, “low-carb” and “high-protein” claims in recent years.
“Diabetes is set to spiral in the next 10-15 years and, as a result, more and more customers are managing their calorie intake. Sugar is the new evil… it used to be butter, but the emphasis has moved away from this now,” he said.
“People will still indulge, but there will be a decrease in the ‘treat’ category. To fit in with this, I’d suggest bakers look to portion control, small treats, which will help their customers manager their diet.”
Professor and director of gastroenterology at The Alfred and Monash University, Peter Gibson, debunked the myth a gluten-free diet is a healthier alternative to eating bread, saying it’s controversial as to whether gluten and wheat actually causes the health issues claimed by a growing number of Australians.
“Around 11 per cent of Australians are saying they avoid wheat. Around 12 per cent who are on a gluten-free diet have no symptoms of coeliac disease, with 25 per cent hoping to lose weight. This isn’t good… it’s costly, it’s restrictive and there are psychosocial problems associated with constantly paying attention to your diet,” he said.
“A low FODMAP diet can actually be beneficial to control gut symptoms and influence outcomes in chronic intestinal conditions, but of course, the FODMAP industry doesn’t want to become ‘the new gluten-free’.”
Darling Downs-based owner and manager of Kialla Pure Foods, Quentin Kennedy, also talked about his organic cereal grain processing operation and supplying organic product to retail, manufacturing and wholesale businesses throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
A board member of Australian Organic, the country’s largest member-owned organic promotion and lobbying organisation, Quentin is positive about the market’s potential.
“Organic farming was estimated to grow around 11 per cent this year, according to IBISWorld data, to $655.3 million, up millions of dollars from previous years. Not many agricultural industries can boast this type of growth in Australia, or internationally,” he said, acknowledging the organic market in the US is also up significantly across condiments, snack foods and bread/grain categories.
“Consumer behaviour is driving this trend. There are many perceived benefits to certified organic food; it’s chemical-free, additive-free, environmentally friendly, hormone-free, non-GMO and generally more nutritious. Consumers also seem to think it’s better tasting and they are impressed by the fact the product is traceable back to the farm.
“The booming popularity of low-carb diets, like the paleo diet, along with the gluten-free trend, certainly means some consumers are moving away from bread. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some rising opportunities, pardon the pun! Claims need to be certified, but claim such as ‘gluten-free’, ‘natural’, ‘free-from’, and ‘organic’ will get attention.”
Industry’s cream of the crop announced
After three packed days of regional scholarship activities, the Australian Baking Industry National Scholarship Awards winners were made public, drawn from a pool of regional winners.
The Sydney J Packham baking industry medal, awarded to an outstanding baker in the 18-24-year-old category, went to Joshua Bendeich from Singleton Heights Bakery, New South Wales. Townsville’s Jean Pierre Pâtisserie baker Kayla Kelly was a close runner-up.
Barry Lindermann from Kerry Pinnacle in Brisbane took home the prestigious Arthur Denison Trophy – awarded to promising bakers 25-years-and-older. Runner up recognition was awarded to Brett Armstrong from Nomad, Surry Hills, and Carmelia Budiraharjo from Globe Café and Pâtisserie in Perth.
Joshua received an impressive score of 84 per cent for his Sydney Packham paper, covering 16 questions on a wide range of topics from flour and yeast to health and safety.
“The paper reflected a wide knowledge across most of the categories. Joshua has obviously invested a great deal of time investigating, learning and sourcing each topic,” the judges commented.
Barry selected the topic ‘apprenticeships – where to now’ for his paper, which the judges noted was a solid review of current processes and environment.
“A passionate paper with sound conclusions… thinking outside of the square,” the judges stated.
“Both national winners will embark on overseas scholarships to further enhance their industry and product knowledge,” event organiser Craig Perry said.
“Joshua will spend time in Singapore next March, with a three-day course at the Callebaut chocolate academy as a highlight. Barry will be off to Germany later in the year to visit the IBA baking show in Munich. Both trips are made possible by the sponsorship of EOI Peerless,” he said.