The importance of freshness and preservation in baked goods

One of the main things consumers look for in baked goods is a fresh-out-of-the-oven experience.

But literally getting a bread or other baked good right out of the oven is tough, unless you bake it yourself or happen to get to the bakery at just the right time.

If you can get the “fresh” part of the equation right, however, you can deliver products that seem like they came right of the oven.

That’s where freshness products from Lenexa, Kan.-based Corbion come in. Take Corbion’s Ultra Fresh® and Ultra Fresh® Sweet technology, which protects products during processing, handling and distribution, making them last longer and helping to deliver the freshness consumers expect.

“These solutions offer several days of extended freshness for in-store bakery products and up to 45 days of extended freshness for packaged and sweet baked goods,” said Kathy Sargent, Corbion’s Director of Global Market Strategy. “Not only do they help bakers meet consumer preferences, but they also reduce food waste caused by stale products and offer additional selling opportunities from fuller shelves.’

Corbion is able to tailor its Ultra Fresh® products to help customers address all aspects of freshness, which include everything from softness to moistness, resilience, tenderness and shelf life.

“Beginning with so much experience on our side has given us a head start when it comes to the competition. Instead of just beginning our forays into cutting-edge freshness solutions, Corbion is able to build on our long history of innovation and industry knowledge to create even more advanced freshness and preservation solutions.”

Kathy Sargent, Corbion

Clean label capability 
For clean label preservation that delivers the additional shelf life needed for consistent distribution, Corbion’s Verdad® MP 100 is a perfect solution. This naturally fermented solution functions as a clean label mold inhibitor, allowing bakers to reduce food waste.

“Verdad MP 100 is unique in that it retains the functionality of traditional solutions while meeting consumer demands for simpler ingredient labels and leaving the flavor of baked goods intact,” Sargent said.

During the more than 70 years Corbion has been pioneering emulsification technologies, the company has developed a large portfolio of dough and batter conditioners that improve efficiency and consistency throughout the production process.

Those solutions also help to increase tolerance in baked goods during manufacturing, Sargent said, leading to less variance and yield loss, and lowering the overall production cost for bakers by enabling higher processing speeds while reducing waste.

“This results in finished baked goods with the highest quality, the best possible yield and freshness through consumption.”

Continuous improvement

Recent innovations from Corbion have made it easier for bakery manufacturers to maintain the freshness, quality and consistency of their products, whether they’re in-store bakery items or packaged baked goods.

But the company is always looking for the next innovation that will make its customers’ jobs even easier.

That’s why, for instance, Corbion is committed to 100% bio-based solutions that deliver natural functionality for preservation, freshness and the highest quality flavor, Sargent said.

“One way we do that is by taking what we’ve learned in one area and seeing how that knowledge or expertise might benefit another product category. For example, right now we’re leveraging the food safety innovations we’ve achieved with meat products to bakery products.”

At the same time, Corbion is reviewing its bakery solutions to see how it could apply one of those innovations to meat products as well. That internal knowledge transfer results in rapid innovation for each category, but with fit-for-purpose solutions that delight consumers.

Advantage Corbion

One of the biggest advantages Corbion has when it comes to creating innovative freshness and preservation solutions is the huge body of experience the company can rely on.

Corbion created and patented the standard for freshness in the baked goods space, helping bakers to create products with improved shelf life and lasting quality.

“Beginning with so much experience on our side has given us a head start when it comes to the competition,” Sargent said. “Instead of just beginning our forays into cutting-edge freshness solutions, Corbion is able to build on our long history of innovation and industry knowledge to create even more advanced freshness and preservation solutions.”

What began with Purac® preservation products, for instance, evolved into the creation of one of the first and best-performing clean-label mold inhibitors, Verdad® MP 100, whose name comes from the Spanish word for truth.

Corbion chose the name, Sargent said, because it embodied the spirit of what the company set out to accomplish when it created Verdad®: a true clean-label solution that offers authentic, transparent, and natural preservation for both meat and bakery applications.

Looking ahead

Corbion’s efforts to develop effective, advanced preservation solutions continue today, as the company works toward tomorrow’s solutions.

One example: the work being done by its leading fermentation experts, an operational footprint that includes advanced new expansions, continually building on its scientific knowledge base of microorganisms and developing cutting-edge preservation technologies that are isolated from nature.
In addition to Corbion’s extensive application knowledge and robust portfolio, the company’s customers have access to its Technical Service Team, a group of troubleshooting experts that are available 24/7 to help with the most challenging formulation issues.

“We want our customers to have a true partner in this process, so the team works directly with them to understand their goals and identify and implement the most fitting solutions for their needs,” Sargent said. “We then customize each of our solutions to be a perfect fit for our customers’ application, their brand and the eating attributes their consumers expect.”

COVID’s impact
Before the coronavirus pandemic, consumers spent more time shopping the perimeter of the store and purchasing items from fresh bakeries. COVID-19 inspired more trust from consumers in the center-store aisles, where their shopping priorities shifted toward preservation and shelf life.

These new shopping habits came with a new shopping method as well. Consumers began purchasing their groceries online in large numbers, leading to a huge boost in e-commerce sales. Finally, fearing shortages, shoppers panic-bought products, putting new strains on supply chains across the food industry.

“These changes had impacts on both bakers and their supplier partners, forcing bakers to shift their methods of production to accommodate new demands for high-quality baked goods, longer-lasting items resistant to staling and molding, larger quantities and an emphasis on safer packaging,” Sargent said.

It also became even more important for bakers to ensure sufficient availability of their products at retail locations, as consumers searched for foods that could remain fresh, even after long periods of storage in their pantries.

Suppliers, for their part, also worked to change up their distribution systems to accommodate these new trends, adapting to the new ways bakery items were being stored, shipped and delivered, as well as where and how their goods were being sold.

The Top Six Ways in Which Baked Goods Purchasing Behavior Varies Based on Generational Differences

  • Older consumers account for the majority of bakery and cereal consumption in the U.S.GlobalData research from September 2019 showed that 42% of consumers purchasing baked goods in the time period spanning 2013-2018 were ages 45 and older. The second-largest demographic, 15 years and under, accounted for just 22.7%. One explanation for this disparity could be that older consumers may be purchasing these items for themselves and their children or grandchildren, while millennials and Gen Xers are buying them primarily for themselves or smaller families.
  • Statista Dossier data from 2020 showed that Millennials are also concerned about their diet. More than half say they pay more attention to ingredient labels, are concerned about food additives, and are making an effort to purchase more organic foods versus five years ago. Further, Millennials tend to gravitate toward breads that offer them health benefits, such as those with whole and ancient grains, organic varieties, and specialty seeds and flours.
  • Most Millennial and Gen Z consumers regularly buy bread and prefer those with softer textures. According to recent survey data from Corbion, 90% of consumers ages 18-34 stated they had purchased bread in the last 30-60 days. Eighty percent of these consumers preferred breads with softer textures, such as sliced breads, buns and rolls. Additionally, when asked about the soft bread types they most preferred, they identified Hawaiian rolls and brioche over other specialty loaves like sourdough, French, Italian, baguettes or other buns and rolls.
  • Younger consumers are more conscious of the environmental impacts of the food they eat. This includes trends like plant-based foods, foods with whole grains and foods that are environmentally sustainable. Additionally, these consumers want to know more about the source of the grains and seeds in the baked goods they eat and the specific health benefits or enhancements (added protein or fiber) these items offer. Reaching this demographic requires effective packaging claims that bring attention to these benefits. Additionally, these younger consumers are able to easily adapt their diets to better align with their eco-conscious views, and according to Statista Dossier research, 62% are willing to spend more to purchase food that doesn’t harm the environment.
  • Consumers ages 55+ care more about the texture experience of baked goods than younger consumers, according to 2019 data from Innova Market Insights. This trend likely originates from the days when made-from-scratch was the only option in many retail stores and bakeries, and a richer variety was desired. Today, however, fast-moving bakery items lack texture due to speed-to-market and shelf-life expectations. In a survey from Innova Market Insights, consumers 55+ said they cared more about the texture experience of the food they eat, while ages 26-35 cared more about the ingredient list. Additionally, recent Corbion consumer preference survey data showed that 44% of respondents ages 55+ prefer purchasing breads that offer a variety of textures, such as French, Italian and sourdough. Further, these consumers had an equal preference for bread types that offer a crispy outside, and those that are soft in the center.
  • Corbion research from 2019 showed that consumers ages 35+ prefer sweet baked goods. Given the choice between a number of product concepts, nearly 70% of these consumers stated they would definitely or probably purchase items like sweet breads, sweet stick twists, swirl bites and gourmet filled tarts. Their counterparts in the 18-34 age range gravitated more toward items with smaller portions, such as nuggets, pockets or bites, as well as savory baked goods like pressed bagels, English muffins, toasted bread pockets and wraps.