Health claims are on the rise across a number of food and beverage categories and, not surprisingly, the trend is now impacting bread.
Bread launch numbers have continued to rise globally and, last year, products using health claims of some kind made up more than 2 per cent of the launches.
As a result of the growing influence of health claims regulations, particularly in the European Union and North America, the functional bread sector has generally seen much lower levels of new product and promotional activity in the past few years.
However, this does not mean interest in healthier options has reduced. Rather, it’s more an indicator the positioning of bread has changed to focus more on a generally healthy and nutritious image, rather than making specific claims.
Innova Market Insights divides health claims and positioning into two types: passive and active. Passive health claims includes low and light, organic and gluten-free. Active, however, involves the addition of particular ingredients – such as calcium, protein and fibre – or the promotion of specific benefits such as heart health or digestive health.
Globally, passive claims dominated the bread market, with more than 40 per cent of launches using them in 2013, compared with just 5 per cent using active claims of some kind. Again this varies regionally, with more than 11 per cent of launches using active claims in the US, compared with 6 per cent in Asia and 3 per cent in Europe.
The most popular health claims in the bread market overall referred to naturalness, with one-fifth of 2103 launches using one or more claims relating to naturalness, an additive- or preservative-free formulation, or an organic positioning. Nearly 17 per cent used either high-in-/source-of-fibre claims or a wholegrain positioning.
In terms of active health claims, usage was much lower, with the most frequently used being vitamin and mineral fortification, featuring on 1.5 per cent of launches, ahead of omega 3/DHA fortification and heart health, with about 1 per cent each.
The US, with its mature and highly competitive market looking for differentiation and its ongoing consumer interest in health, had an even higher level of interest. More than one-third of tracked launches used claims relating to naturalness and a similar percentage utilised fibre/wholegrain claims.
Consumers in the US continue to focus on healthier breads, fortified with healthful ingredients or featuring reduced levels of sodium, sugar and fat. Wholegrain products have continued to grow in popularity and the use of ancient grains is also continuing to increase.