Lower ingredient costs, clean labels and the ability to improve the look, taste and texture of baked goods and snack foods are just some of the reasons why bakers and snack producers are adding enzymes to their ingredient arsenal.

Consumer demand for affordable, better-for-you foods with cleaner labels is prompting bakers and snack producers to re-examine product formulations and ingredients. In turn, ingredient manufacturers are developing or reformulating their products to enable bakers and snack producers to create in-demand baked goods and snacks, as well as address some of their other concerns.

“Consumer trends define the playing field for bakery manufacturers,” says Nicole Rees, research and development manager, at AB Mauri, Wilsonville, Ore. “As a leading supplier to the industry, AB Mauri must acutely be aware of consumer preferences in order to deliver products to its partners that help them succeed in an increasingly competitive market.” A division of Associated British Foods p.l.c., the Peterborough, U.K.-based company produces and distributes yeast and bakery ingredients, including enzymes, worldwide.

Reduced costs, clean labels and processing tolerance are the major industry needs driving the company’s enzyme development, says Rees. “Keeping costs low is a key priority for most bakers, and enzymes are now being utilized to take out excess ingredient costs and reduce waste,” she explains. “Clean-label baking is not a new trend, but today’s enzymes offer improved performance and processing tolerance.”

Brian Fatula, vice president, Americas–Baking Enzymes, at DSM Food Specialties USA Inc., South Bend, Ind., also cites increasing ingredient costs as a primary reason for why bakers are using more enzymes. “In these challenging economic times, the main concern driving the use of enzymes is the need to optimize raw materials, so end-product costs are controlled while quality is maximized,” he says. “This has become increasingly important in the past year, with problems such as the U.S. drought affecting the prices of many commodities, including corn.”

Fatula says consumers “are demanding more from the goods they purchase, as they try to get the best value from their weekly shop. Popular items such as bread and cakes more than ever need to deliver on taste and texture, as well as offer longer shelf life. At the same time, consumers are shying away from ingredients that sound ‘artificial,’ and seek a simple, easy-to-understand ingredient label. Enzymes are able to achieve these sometimes conflicting objectives, offering optimal taste, texture and allowing products to remain fresh longer, without appearing as an additive on the ingredient list.”

DSM’s recent enzyme offerings include Panamore Golden, a replacement for diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM), and Panamore Spring, a replacement for sodium and calcium stearoyl lactylates (SSL and CSL). Both are part of the Panamore range of enzymes, which can be used in all types of flours. The company also extended its CakeZyme3  range with CakeZyme Majestic and CakeZyme Sublime, two enzymes that enhance the quality and extend the shelf life of cakes. PrevantASe2, another DSM product, is an acrylamide mitigator.

“‘Clean label’ has been touted to remove the emulsifier names DATEM or SSL by using new enzyme technology,” says Sam Wright IV, CEO of The Wright Group, Crowley, La., when asked about issues driving the need for new or proprietary enzymes. He adds that the company was “generally the first to introduce a clean-label dough conditioner, which began to gain popularity in the last two to three years. As enzyme technology advances, we continue to improve the functionality of our clean-label product,” he says.

In addition to dough conditioners, The Wright Group offers custom nutrient pre-mixes, shelf-life extenders and microencapsulated leavening systems.

“I believe we will continue to see more enzymes in food to help clean up labels and reduce costs,” agrees Trey Muller-Thym, regional sales manager of Colora, Md.-based Thymly Products Inc., which offers conditioners, flours, grain mixes, salt, shelf-life extenders, sweeteners and other ingredients. “Our R&D people find that enzymes are more effective than other items currently being used in the [baking] industry. This means we can formulate bread and cakes by taking out some of the ingredients with scary names that often have big price swings, all while getting a better product.”

For the planet and people

In addition to helping bakers and snack manufacturers lower their ingredient costs and produce clean labels, enzymes also open up ecological solutions, says Martina Mollenhauer, product manager at Muehlenchemie GmbH & Co. KG, Ahrensburg, Germany. “They help to shorten processes, lower temperatures or reduce the carbon footprint of an end product,” she explains.

Muehlenchemie develops enzyme systems, flour maturing and oxidizing agents, bromate replacers, emulsifiers, vitamin and mineral premixes and functional systems for ready-mixed and composite flours.

Jan van Eijk, PhD, research director, baking ingredients, Lallemand Inc., Montreal, also cites health and nutrition—reduced acrylamide, high fiber, low  salt—as more important forces driving enzyme use. “The requirement for dough stabilizing ingredients including enzymes is normally higher in high-fiber bread because fibers normally have a dough destabilizing effect. Bread dough made with reduced salt levels tends to have lower fermentation tolerance and requires less mixing and shorter proofing time, which requires an adjustment in the level of baking ingredients, including baking enzymes.”

Lallemand develops, produces and markets yeasts and bacteria. One of its more recent introductions, Essential CL 732, is a clean-label dough conditioner designed for all types of fresh and frozen dough applications, such as whole-wheat and ancient-grains bread.

As consumer interest in baked goods made with whole and ancient grains, less salt and sugar and no gluten continues to grow, bakers and snack producers may turn to enzymes even more for these applications.

“Whole-grain and ancient-grain breads normally require high levels of emulsifiers, oxidants and gluten that can be replaced or reduced by enzymes and other more label-friendly ingredients,” says van Eijk. “Low-sodium products tend to lack taste and have reduced fermentation tolerance, a problem usually addressed by process modifications. The lack of taste in low-salt products can be solved by adding salt replacers, but also by using enzymes that improve crust coloring. Gluten-free products usually require enzymes that will keep the products soft during storage.”

Wright agrees that enzymes can be beneficial to gluten-free recipes, even though developing such enzymes can be difficult. “Most bakery enzymes are designed to modify protein, starch and the little bit of fat in wheat flour,” he explains. “This brings new challenges to gluten-free products. Finding enzymes that not only work on the varied ingredient replacements, but also bring about the same dough-conditioning enhancement, has been a challenge. However, substrate-specific enzyme products have been researched and proved to be successful on a few specific gluten-replacement product bakery applications.”

Muller-Thym says Thymly Products continues to push the bounds of what its enzymes can do. “We have found it tough to use enzymes in natural products, as most of our enzymes do not meet this labeling,” he says. “Hopefully, we will find ways to manufacture a natural enzyme. In other applications [such as gluten-free, whole-grain, ancient-grain, low-sodium, reduced-sugar and so on], we are definitely using them to make inventive products and push the limits of food.”

Now and next

If recent enzyme advancements are any indication, bakers and snack producers can expect to see more developments in this ingredient area in the coming years.

“Five to 10 years ago, enzymes were primarily known in the baking industry for their use as shelf-life extenders to preserve the soft crumb of fresh bread,” says Rees. “Today, enzymes are seen as tools that can deliver many different product attributes, such as improved fermentation, dough machinability and protein enhancers.”

For van Eijk, the development of new and better enzymes has been a continuous process that has resulted in new baking enzymes for emulsifier replacement (lipases/phospholipases), bread shelf-life extension, improved softness in cakes and related products and less acrylamide in baked goods and snack products (asparaginases).

“There have been a lot of developments in the baking industry during the last five years,” Fatula notes. “For example, cake manufacturers have introduced enzymes into their processes to achieve softness and longer shelf life and to optimize egg functionality.”

Fatula adds that enzymes are also being used in acrylamide mitigation. “Since acrylamide’s discovery in 2002, authorities worldwide have conducted many investigations into this substance, and the food industry has explored a number of acrylamide mitigation techniques,” he explains. “Available methods include process changes, ingredient replacement/addition and agronomic solutions. But such methods can negatively impact the quality of end products. So many food manufacturers have adopted enzymatic solutions that are reliable, effective and don’t interfere with product characteristics.”

The enzymes food producers encounter tomorrow will likely be based on those used today. “The enzymes themselves haven’t changed, but their quality has improved,” says Mollenhauer. “‘High-throughput screening’ makes it possible to exploit their natural potential more completely.”