Clean Label Ideas for Bakers

At the IBIE conference last October, I was privileged to be part of an expert panel discussion on “Clean Label – Consumer Expectations and Baking Challenges.”  Along with Abigail Ceule from Corbion and Matthew Patrick from Delavau Foods, we discussed the latest clean-label trends for bakers in communications, applications, and formulation and cutting-edge consumer research from Corbion.  You can learn more about the information shared during the panel discussion here.

What Does Clean Label Mean?

Afterwards, I was contacted by Monica Ginsburg and the great team from Imagination Publishing in Chicago to talk more about clean-label trends in baking and how retail bakers can take advantage of these trends with their regular customers.  We discussed in depth what consumers are looking for when they shop for fresh and processed baked goods and how retail bakers can use these insights to help build customer loyalty and sales of “on-trend” products.

Monica and the Imagination team turned our conversation into a great piece on how bakers can use these clean-label trends successfully. Their article on appealing to health resolutions in bakery is now featured on the Dawn Foods website here.

Tips and Tricks for Clean Label Bakers

Capitalize on Health-Minded Resolutions
By: Monica Ginsburg

Ringing in the New Year can also mean focusing on new opportunities for your bakery. Instead of ceding ground to annual resolutions to “lose weight” or “eat healthy,” it’s time to cash in on a growing demographic: consumers who view their meals, snacks and treats holistically—focusing on living healthier and well-balanced lives overall, rather than dieting.

Once carb-cutters and sugar avoiders, today’s shoppers are more educated about what health really means: balance. In fact, going into 2016, the most popular resolutions among consumers were “enjoy life to the fullest” and “live a healthier lifestyle,” according to research by GOBankingRates.

These consumers are seeking out foods made with natural, recognizable ingredients and local produce, as well as labels that reflect high amounts of protein, fiber and good fats. That’s not to say they’re avoiding all indulgence. In fact, a major part of maintaining a balanced lifestyle overall is recognizing opportunities for treats and portioning in a guilt-free way. And that shift in consumers’ perception of health is influencing their purchasing behaviors.

Consumers Are Looking for Better Food

“Consumers are looking for ‘better food,’ but what that means is different for everyone,” says Ed Doyle, president of RealFood Consulting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Generally they’re looking to upgrade to wholesome, quality ingredients, and they want to understand what’s in the foods they buy.”

Here are six tips for attracting balance-minded consumers in the New Year.

Be Smart About Labels

After the holidays, consumers are inclined to scour ingredient lists and health claims. According to Innova Market Insights, roughly three-quarters of U.S. consumers “strongly agree” that food labels must contain mostly recognizable ingredients. In addition, 91 percent view foods with recognizable ingredients as healthier.

However, consumers weigh labels differently depending on the items they’re purchasing. Claims such as “all-natural,” “preservative-free,” and “no artificial ingredients” draw customers to all bakery products.

Maximize Signage

Similarly to certain health claims, words like organic, authentic, artisan, local, natural, whole grain, ancient grain and wholesome resonate with health-minded consumers, says Mark Hughes, president of Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing in Omaha, Nebraska. But cramming all those words on one label diminishes the impact each could have on a shopper’s buying decision.

Signs and menu boards are the perfect places to highlight natural products or locally sourced ingredients. Group baked goods by features, and use descriptive language like crunchy, hearty, nutty, flaky, rich and sweet to increase appeal.

See Related: 5 Benefits of Working with a PR Partner

Step Up the Grains

Touted for their health properties and taste, whole grains are growing in popularity—and fast. For nearly two-thirds of Americans, at least half of their grain consumption comes from whole grains.

“These products represent a small volume of the total bakery business, but it’s where significant growth is happening,” says Hughes.

Everyday staples like bread, muffins and bagels are key areas of opportunity for experimenting with whole-grain offerings. Adding “new” grains, including sorghum, millet, amaranth and spelt, along with multigrain loaf combinations like wheat berry, oats, rye and millet to existing formulas, can boost flavor profiles and natural appeal.

In addition, bakeries can experiment with grains in pastries, such as fruit pies and crumbles made with whole wheat or quinoa crusts and toppings. They can also swap portions of white flour for whole wheat flour in croissants, scones and danishes.

Support Portion Control

After a season of festive meals, many consumers want to minimize their intake of sweets. That doesn’t mean they’re avoiding indulgence entirely. Mini portions of cookies, brownies, and single slices of cake can provide consumers a guilt-free treat that balances out a healthy diet and contributes to their overall well-being.

Consider packaging and marketing these smaller portions of sweets as accessible everyday luxuries that deliver on flavor and quality.

Display Like a Gourmet Shop

Whether a shopper has a taste for nutrient-rich bread or a sweet pick-me-up, the presentation will influence his or her perception of product quality. 93 percent of consumers say visual appearance is the most important factor influencing their purchases.

In addition to clear packaging, consider using brown paper labels that evoke authentic or artisanal foods. Island displays or wooden bins and wicker baskets in place of traditional steel and plastic shelves add a special touch, while display cases decorated with colorful paper or flowers can improve the appearance of cakes. Look to specialty bakeries, restaurants and gourmet shops for inspiration.

Help Staff Spread the Word

Train bakery team members to speak knowledgeably about product offerings, whether explaining the difference in taste and texture of certain grains or helping a customer choose between two types of chocolate cake. Ensure staffers have sampled new products to convey flavor and freshness to customers effectively. “It’s a real opportunity to talk to and listen to customers,” says Hughes. “You can see what consumers respond to, which can help drive product mix.”

What other clean label ideas have you seen working in your Bakery?  Feel free to share them with us in the comments section that follows.

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