By Amrinder Singh
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a rise in demand for healthy and functional bakery items like those which consist of multigrains, nuts and other healthy ingredients. Consumers are purchasing a variety of bakery products that are high on the health quotient, as it has been seen that people suffering from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are more prone to the deadly infection.
A surge in the number of lifestyle diseases had encouraged Indian consumers to put their health high up on the priority list much before the pandemic hit; Covid-19 has only accelerated the need for healthy eating. According to a research by Mintel, almost three out of four Indians have cited healthy eating as a higher priority, compared to before the outbreak. The global bakery processing equipment market is projected to register a healthy CAGR of 5.7% in the forecast period from 2019 to 2026.
A greater awareness around health also means an increase in guilt among Indian consumers on making impulse purchases, such as baked goods. Brands must cash in on this opportunity by strategically pairing indulgence with health benefits. Creating baked goods that fit effortlessly into healthy lifestyles is key, as consumers will need positive/ functional health benefits to counter some of the guilt around indulging in this category.
They will be looking for brands that can offer products that satisfy their appetite for indulgence and satisfy their guilt with health benefits.
The consumption pattern of bread will see a major shift from white breads towards more multigrain, wholegrain, specialty, ethnic and seeded breads. This is all due to the consumer’s desire for nutritious and healthier products, freshness and also more complex flavour profiles. Companies will continue to manufacture fortified and healthier products. The usages of lesser known grains such as millet and ragi will gain precedence over regular flour in the baked products segment. Many companies have already started producing multigrain breads owing to their increasing preference among consumers.
The coronavirus pandemic has paved the way for a clean and hygienic environment inside the factories, too. Proper maintenance of the machines and hygiene control are important factors in the production of bakery products. All the equipment used in the production of baked goods needs to be sanitised and audited regularly, and any sign of deteriorations must be fixed directly. It has been seen that many hazards in the production process can be avoided with the implementation of pest control, waste control and cleaning programmes.
Those working in a bakery manufacturing factory — right from the top-level management to all the employees — must follow the precautionary measures to maintain a healthy environment.
We have witnessed how the biscuit segment in the bakery industry has gained momentum during the pandemic. Owing to rising biscuit sales, manufacturers have had to innovate by introducing thinner biscuits and biscuits with healthy ingredients. Their affordability and availability again helped them take centrestage.
Manufacturers also came up with the concept of ‘fibre intake’, and introduced biscuits for quick metabolism. Then there are those that help maintain cholesterol and blood sugar levels in patients suffering from heart diseases and diabetes. Companies continue to focus on innovative ingredients and opportunities brought about by the changing consumer behaviour towards health-centric products to thrive in this category.
The author is director, Bonn Group of Industries