As part of our two-part interview series with DSM, this time around we talked Judith van Peij, innovation manager baking, about boosting the health appeal of baked goods, including Omega-3s and trends. 

Read part 1 here.

Liz Parker: What is the best source of Omega-3s in snack and bakery products?

Judith van Peij: When it comes to fortifying bakery products with omega-3s, there are multiple options to consider. There are three distinct sources: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is most commonly made from flaxseeds, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are mainly algae- or fish-derived. EPA and DHA are naturally highly bioavailable, whereas ALA needs to be converted by the body into eicosatetraenoic acid in order to be absorbed, making EPA and DHA the preferred choice of omega-3s.  

Beyond natural sources like fish and flaxseeds, consumers are looking for foods fortified with omega-3s. In fact, 52 percent of consumers want to eat more foods high in the fatty acids that have recognized benefits in eye, heart and brain health, as well as optimizing immunity. Combined with 46 percent of consumers seeking out functional products with health-boosting properties, it’s no surprise that products fortified with omega-3 are increasingly a popular choice in the bakery and snack category. While most snacks and baked goods can be fortified with omega-3s, we find that the most common applications for fortification are whole wheat and whole grain breads, bagels, and more recently frozen waffles and tortillas. 


LP: Why is immunity so important, especially in the age of COVID-19?

JVP: Nobody enjoys being sick, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed immunity to the forefront of consumer health concerns. And now, as cold and flu season starts to take hold, products that support immunity—while also meeting sophisticated taste and texture preferences—remain appealing to today’s health-conscious consumers. 

Omega-3s are essential nutrients that have been shown to support healthy immune systems. However, people can easily find themselves deficient; less than 20 percent of the global population consume the recommended 250mg/day of omega-3. This is why immune-supporting fortification in snacks and bakery products is proving so popular, people are keen to bolster their—and their family’s—health at every opportunity. 


LP: What are your predictions for upcoming better-for-you trends/products, as well as immunity-boosting products/ingredients?

JVP: Gut health and immunity will continue to dominate in the better-for-you space. Linked to this is the rise in popularity of whole wheat and fiber-rich products, alongside fortified staples such as bread, bagels and tortillas.

We are also seeing healthier snacking rise to the top of shopping lists around the world, which is leading to some interesting new product launches including fortified cookies and reduced sugar baked goods. 

Another prominent trend is the plant-based movement. However, people still want the best possible nutrition when following a plant-based diet; in fact, 62 percent of consumers want a plant-based source of omega-3s. Product innovations, like DSM’s life’s OMEGA, the only commercially available plant-based omega-3 that offers EPA and DHA in a single source, will help manufacturers tap into this trend.


LP: What are some ways that producers can fortify their bread and other bakery products effectively, to make sure consumers are receiving the nutrients needed to benefit their immune health?

JVP: Bakery manufacturers face rising pressure to bring on-trend, immune-supporting baked goods to market at record speed. In such a dynamic market, bakery producers must differentiate their offerings with unique front-of-label claims that stand out on shelves.

The latest ingredient technologies—including DSM’s fish oil-derived MEG-3 and algae-sourced life’s OMEGA omega-3 solution—scan help brands formulate delicious, nutrient-enriched baked goods. These solutions are available in oil and powder formats, can be combined with other ingredients, and have no significant impact on taste, texture, or appearance. They are also heat and process stable, meaning they can withstand mixing and maintain efficacy during production and throughout shelf life, helping manufacturers meet the requirements for adding nutritional claims to product labels.