Health claims in bread on the rise

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th February 2014
Health claims are rising in bread products globally

Launches of new bread products have generally continued to rise globally and, within that, products using health claims of some kind made up over 42 per cent of the total in 2013, according to findings from market research organisation Innova Market Insights.

This did vary regionally, however, rising to over 75 per cent in the US and Australia and 70 per cent in Latin America, but falling to less than 30 per cent in the non-traditional bread markets in Asia.

“As a result of the growing influence of health claims regulations, particularly in the EU and North America, the functional bread sector has generally seen much lower levels of new product and promotional activity over the past few years,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This does not mean that interest in healthier options has reduced, however, but more that the positioning of bread has changed to focus more on a generally healthy and nutritious image, rather than making specific claims,” she said.

‘Active’ and ‘passive’ claims

Innova Market Insights divided health claims and positioning into two types: passive, such as low and light, organic, gluten-free etc, and active, which involve the addition of particular ingredients, such as calcium, protein, fibre etc, or the promotion of specific benefits such as heart health or digestive health.

Globally, passive claims dominated in the bread market, with over 40 per cent of launches using them in 2013, compared with just 5 per cent using active claims of some kind. Again this varied regionally, with over 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 2013 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.

US interest in health claims in bread products even higher

According to Innova Market Insights, 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.

Over one-third of tracked launches used claims relating to ‘naturalness’ and a similar percentage utilised ‘fibre/wholegrain’ claims. US consumers continued 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.

Australian Food News reported in January 2014 that new products containing so-called “ancient grains” had continued to rise strongly in recent years.