- Many supermarket bakery departments are simplifying their ingredients list and removing fats and hydrogenated oils from their recipes, according to Supermarket News.
- Nielsen data shows that just 3.1% of bakery items come with health claims, and that sales of these items fell by 3.5% over the past year.
- However, there seems to be increasing demand among high-income shoppers for healthy and “clean” bakery products.
"Clean" and "healthy" are tossed around a lot these days, and their meaning can change depending on who you talk to. One thing is certain, though: these kids of products are in demand, and millions of dollars in sales hinge on making and selling them just right.
As the bakery department shows, the two terms intersect. “Clean” baked goods, according to managers, are those made with a limited number of wholesome ingredients. They reflect a consumer wariness of processed ingredients that have long, complicated names — ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, which after years of serving as an inexpensive sweetener has recently seen a swift and severe backlash. Many in the industry know that, from a nutritional standpoint, there isn’t much difference between HFCS and sugar. But to consumers, sugar is natural and can be bought in bags from the store. It gives them a feeling of control to see it on an ingredients list.
The same goes for ingredients like flour, yeast, and whole grains. These are unadulterated natural substances that customers can understand. They’ve been used by cooks for generations. They are “clean” because they are perceived as being untainted by the rigors of food processing.
Clean products are often seen as “healthy” because health is no longer just about counting calories. These days, it also encompasses wholeness, functionality and ingredients that nourish the body. This is evidenced by the rise of probiotics to aid digestion, or the runaway success of products with added protein.
Many bakery products aren’t healthy in the traditional sense; they contain butter and sugar and lots of carbohydrates. But they also contain whole grains, sprouted grains and other fresh, unadulterated ingredients. When responsibly consumed, these items still fall under the "clean eating" umbrella for many consumers.