Editor Dan Malovany discusses the latest trends in the bread aisle and mourns the passing of a man with more than 50 years of baking experience.

Beyond Whole Grains

Maybe it’s just me, but plant sterols and Omega-3’s just aren’t hot buttons when it comes to my diet. However, mention that a loaf of bread made with plant sterols and oatmeal can help lower cholesterol and a couple slices of bread made with Omega-3 fatty acids may aid in cardiovascular health, and you got my attention.

    That’s the positioning of two of the four new products under Weston Bakeries’ new Grains & More line, which was introduced in September. As its name indicates, Grains & More is leveraging the halo of whole grains and adding one more component that provides a specific health benefit for consumers.

    According to Jennifer Hartley, business director for the Arnold and Brownberry brands, selecting just one nutritious “hero” ingredient and bundling it with whole grains allows Weston Bakeries to educate consumers and palookas alike about the direct correlation between that ingredient and a specific health attribute.

    Innovation is not just about new products, but also how a company positions them.

    Weston Bakeries moved two of its most popular selling products from its Whole Grain Classics line under the Grains & More umbrella. Its Double Fiber 100% Whole Wheat bread is positioned as healthy for the digestive system. The Double Protein Hearty Multi-Grain variety is geared towards active people as it builds, maintains and repairs body tissue. Both products help consumers remain satiated longer, which has become a big issue among dieters lately.

    The new items include Double Oat Hearty Oatmeal bread with plant sterols that can help lower cholesterol by 15% and the Double Omega Multi-Grain & Flax bread that can aid in cholesterol health. These four health concerns, Hartley notes, resonated most strongly with consumers in tests by the company.

    “We wanted to maintain the great taste of the product, but also provide the nutrition,” she says.

Ironically, a couple of years ago, Weston Bakeries introduced a loaf of bread with Omega-3 fatty acids, but later shelved it because of a lack of consumer response. Since then, Hartley adds, consumer awareness about the benefits of Omega-3 has increased significantly with the flurry of energy bars, beverages and other new products being sold in supermarkets, health clubs and other outlets.

    Additionally, Weston Bakeries has removed high-fructose corn syrup from all of its products.

    “We have gotten a lot of calls from consumers saying they love our bread, but they’re wondering why we have high-fructose corn syrup in it so we removed it from all of our bread,” Hartley says.

    Currently, Weston is using television commercials in the Northeast to promote its whole grain products, including Grains & More, and the company plans to use cross couponing to boost trial in the near future.

    “It’s what’s Arnold is all about. We’re serious about nutrition and passionate about bread,” Hartley says.

    For years, people have been asking me, what’s the next big trend in the bread aisle after whole grains? Weston Bakeries is betting that the next big trend is about “Grains and More.”


On a Personal Note: I’m sad to note that Roger W. Masa, 70, passed away in September. Roger had been involved in the baking industry for more than 50 years and most recently served as the president of The Long Co. of Chicago from 2002 to 2007.

    Previously, Roger worked at American Ingredients Co. in Kansas City, Mo., where he was vice president of sales. He began his baking career on the retail side of the baking business in 1948 and moved to wholesale baking operations with American Bakeries in 1958. He was a 1956 graduate of the American Institute of Baking.

    I mainly knew Roger from meetings where he always was willing to share his insight and knowledge, even when I was a rookie who knew nothing about the industry.

    You always knew where you stood with Roger. He wasn’t afraid to call things as he saw them. You have to respect someone like that.

    Good-bye, Rog.



Dan Malovany, editor


**Note: This column was printed in the October 2008 Buyer's Guide.