Interview with Dave Watson, IBIE Committee Member and Vice President of Engineering, Campbell Soup Company/Pepperidge Farm
Dave Watson sat down with Food Manufacturing to discuss the latest baking trends and how they will be highlighted at the International Baking Industry Exposition this year in Las Vegas.
Q: The baking industry seems to be ever changing. What are some of the most important trends that bakers should note?
A: Baking is definitely experiencing great change. Staying up with it all can be a lot for bakers who are also trying to run their businesses. Fortunately the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) does an incredible job of educating bakers on policies and emerging trends. Having all that knowledge in one place makes the show a must attend for anyone in the industry.
Right now, some of the most important developments are around the bankruptcy of Hostess brands, allergen cleanups, new environmental regulations and consumer demand for more convenient packaging options. When Hostess closed its doors, the industry went through another major consolidation and is now dominated by two major bakers: Flowers and Bimbo. While this opened up shelf space offering bakers short-term opportunities, long-term opportunities may be few and further between.
Another area transforming quickly is allergen cleanup. There’s significant work being done to create more efficient and effective allergen cleanup methods. This allows bakers who have shied away from allergen-containing products to widen their offerings and feel confident that their products are safe for consumers. This is another area where IBIE excels. They’ve added several new exhibitors and sessions around food safety, allergens and sanitation.
In addition, IBIE has added a wide selection of ancillary product exhibitors, including packaging, which is a key area for bakers to pay attention. Consumers are looking for convenient packaging options like single-serve pack sizes. Environmentally friendly packaging also continues to be a hot trend.
Constantly evolving environmental regulations are also a concern for bakers, especially in the area of air emissions. Recently we’ve seen increased enforcement and more stringent requirements from many states. Also, the R22 refrigerant phase-out by 2020, as directed by the Montreal Protocol, is forcing bakers to rethink their refrigeration strategy. They need to move to more environmentally friendly alternatives quickly. This will have significant impact on larger facilities where ammonia is the refrigerant of choice.
Of course there’s always the constant search for the next new product. IBIE comes through for bakers in this area as well. Attendees can see all the emerging ingredients and new products in one place.
Q: Healthier food products are becoming more popular with consumers. What nutrition trends are you seeing within the baking industry?
A: Nutrition is top-of-mind with consumers looking for new, innovative products, not just line extension. Gluten-free products, high-fiber products and those with natural sweeteners vs. HFCS are doing very well. We’re seeing bakers focus on healthy and seasonal offerings to give consumers greater variety and a wide range of flavor options. At the same time they still like to indulge. The use of chocolate and new flavorings in cookies is meeting that need and driving growth.
Artisan breads continue to succeed in the marketplace. For bakers interested in this trend, they can hear from the Bread Bakers Guild of America at IBIE. They bring decades of experience and expertise you can’t find anywhere else. The BBGA will host a number of sessions on artisan breads. In addition, the IBIE is offering a plethora of sessions on nutrition and healthy offerings.
Q: More than ever, bakers seem to be using a greater variety of grains in their creations. What types of grains are most popular, and how are bakers implementing them into their products?
A: Bakers are getting more creative with ingredients than ever, especially with the resurgence of ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, which are high in fiber and antioxidants. You can also see this creativity in the increasing number of multi-grain breads containing grains such as oats, cracked wheat, barley, millet and flax. To help bakers capitalize on this trend, IBIE is offering an entire education track called Ingredient Trends and Formulations, which include sessions dedicated to using ancient grains.
For more information about the International Baking Industry Exposition, held Oct. 6-9, 2013 in Las Vegas, visit www.IBIE2013.com.