Specialty breads altering consumers' perspective on carbs

Specialty breads altering consumers' perspective on carbs

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Carbs or carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient found in certain foods and drinks and are needed by our body to stay healthy, just like proteins and fats. Macronutrients provide calories and energy and are therefore required in large numbers to maintain body functions. Sugars, starches, and fiber are carbohydrates, and they should be the body's primary source of energy in a healthy, balanced diet. They are broken down into glucose (sugar) before being absorbed into our blood. The glucose then enters our cells with the help of insulin and supplies energy to the whole body. Many people are confused about carbs and think they are fattening, but eating carbohydrates from healthy foods is essential.

Bread is one of the food items which has carbs, apart from beans, milk, potatoes, corn, soft drinks, etc. Sugars, fibers, and starches are the most common and abundant carbohydrates. What is important is the type of carbohydrate you choose to eat because some sources are healthier than others.

Bakery products are a grocery staple in India, and bread is consumed daily in many households. According to a report by statistics portal Statista, the bread market in India is expected to grow annually by 4.65% (CAGR 2021-2025). The average volume per person in the bread segment is expected to amount to 26.5kg in 2021, as per the data. The rise in bread consumption prompted Indian customers to choose healthy variants like multigrain bread and whole wheat bread.

The spread of COVID-19 has further accelerated health as a priority, and people in India are going for healthy bread now. Consumers' sentiments towards carbs are now changing, and they prefer healthy food sources to meet their carbohydrates requirements. The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are unprocessed or minimally processed whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. They promote good health by delivering vitamins, minerals, fibers, and a host of important phytonutrients. Indians are increasingly falling prey to lifestyle diseases, so many bakery companies in India have recently come up with a healthy variety of bread enriched with vitamins, minerals, and herbs to boost immunity and metabolism amid the pandemic. Apart from that, several brands have launched bread that is good for digestion and heart health. A few years back, bread and bakery products were not seen with a 'healthy viewpoint,' but now this perception is changing, especially after the pandemic when demand for bakeries increased, and companies started producing healthier breads.

Innovations in the bread segment

Bread is produced using grains such as wheat, rye, and oats, so the nutrient composition of bread is based on the grain used. The quality of flour used and the addition of ingredients like bran, milk, sesame seeds, chickpeas also affect the nutritional value of the bread. Almost half of our daily energy comes from carbohydrates, so bread is an important part of an adequate and balanced diet. Bread also contains protein, vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of fat. After Europe and many developed countries, several bakeries and FMCG companies in India have also added fibers, whole grains, seeds, and omega-3 fatty acids to bread to contribute to its nutritional value. Innovations in technology have also been introduced to produce better and healthy quality breads.

FSSAI's to regulate the quality of specialty breads

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has recently shared draft regulations with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to regulate specialty bread quality. These are breads that have been enhanced for nutrition or taste. This is to regulate the quality of bread in the country. The idea is also to ensure that buyers know what to expect when they opt for a specialty brand. As per the guidelines, there should be a minimum quantifiable level to which a "specialty ingredient" needs to be present. Earlier in 2017, FSSAI had also mentioned, "rising need for food safety in the sector (bakery)" "trends in baking… towards lighter, healthier products, and those containing allergen-free, organic, and whole-grain ingredients" in its guidance document for the bakery.

Bakeries today can offer unique goods that cater to the latest trends and consumer preferences to appease customers and stay competitive in the market. The latest healthy and specialty bread trends reflect an endless array of possibilities as it doesn't focus on one particular type of bread; instead, it focuses on making bread healthier.

Amrinder Singh is director of Bonn Group of Industries

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