Despite the tough economy, which has affected many bread bakers in the past few years, the bread aisle is getting some hits, and not just at bats. The market is showing signs of life and energy, as new products are being introduced that show a lot of creativity, imagination and an eye with consumers in mind. And bakers are doing their homework. They’re listening to consumers’ likes and dislikes and demands for quality, price and better-for-you options. They’re taking cues from consumers for new niches and special needs, such as adding more whole grains and developing tastier gluten-free products, for example, and formulating products that are healthier, more cost-effective and even more sustainable. They’re also making big contributions to the success of the market in various ways.
One way is by moving faster on customer requests for quality ingredients, authenticity and implementing food safety practices, which is in line with the enactment of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Another noticeable factor is the addition of special ingredients, enhancements and other benefits that improve the taste of bread without adding preservatives.
Hostess Brands’ pacesetting food brand, Nature’s Pride, has met with success with its hearty wheat bread. That’s because it’s probably the first brand to incorporate pure olive oil in its 100% natural Flax variety, which it says not only provides a good source of fiber but also is baked with Omega 3-ALA. The Irving, Texas, company says that as consumers continue to add heart-healthy products to their diets, Nature’s Pride has answered their call with its expanded line of new Hearty Wheat with Flax.
The Nature’s Pride line is also the first to provide a source of Omega 3-ALA, which comes from flaxseed, a good source of fiber and provides 22 g. of whole grains per slice. Like all Nature’s Pride breads, it’s baked using only all-natural ingredients, has no artificial flavors or colors, no trans-fats, no artificial preservatives and contains no high-fructose corn syrup.
“Nature’s Pride continues to address the needs of Baby Boomer and Gen-X consumers who are seeking to increase their consumption of ingredients such as fiber, olive oil and Omega-3 that provide nutritional benefits,” says Laura Pitlik, director of marketing for Nature’s Pride. Since its introduction, Nature’s Pride has drawn rave reviews from consumers looking for a balance between great taste and nutrition, she adds. The brand marked the first of Hostess’ bread products to be introduced by its parent company in several years, and has become one of the company’s most successful product lines, having grown to include several varieties of 24-oz. hearty breads, 20-oz. traditional soft breads, Premium Harvest buns and rolls as well as OvenClassics breads.
Pitlik points to a recent study by The Hartman Group that indicates that Gen-Xers are increasing their consumption of fiber (74%), whole grains (63%), olive oil (58%) and Omega 3-ALA (53%), and that Baby Boomers are experiencing a similar trend: fiber (74%), whole grains (64%), olive oil (66%) and Omega 3-ALA (59%).
“Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax is the latest introduction to our award-winning portfolio of 100% natural breads,” she added. “In addition to delivering the perfect balance of great taste and nutrition consumers can always expect from Nature’s Pride, this new variety is the first to be baked using pure olive oil and the first to provide a good source of Omega 3-ALA, making it an ideal addition to our tasty, wholesome assortment.”
Another hostess brand, Merita, has a long-standing 110-year history as a Southeastern favorite. Now expanded, the line includes two new bread varieties—Merita Smartwhite and Merita made with Whole Grain White—and new packaging.
“The Merita brand is rich in Southern history and has been enjoyed by families for generations” says Ann Oades, director of marketing for Merita bread. “In the South, nothing goes together better than good food and good family, and Merita is proud to be a part of these traditions,” she says. “Merita remains committed to bringing Southern families the same delicious, quality breads with more nutritious choices than ever before.”
The first major change in more than three decades is the new packaging features, such as an updated logo, richer colors and a contemporary design. The bags also incorporate the Merita quality guarantee, which reminds consumers that the brand ensures quality and fresh-baked taste in every loaf.
Smartwhite provides 5 g. of fiber per serving, the same amount of calcium as an 8-oz. glass of milk, is a good source of nine vitamins and minerals and 1/3 less sodium as regular white bread. At only 50 calories per slice, Smartwhite is baked in the South for the South.