Adding Sensory Appeal to Bakery Through Colour and Texture

25/10/2016 09:49:05

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Bread is seen as boring by younger consumers and is one of the reasons overall consumption is in decline in established packaged bread markets such as the US, UK and Germany. As well as the opportunity to inject flavour, there are also obvious angles to exploit around building greater sensory appeal into the offer. Consumers are crying out for more variety in bread, indeed a whopping 66% of American bread eaters agree with the statement ‘I enjoy trying new varieties of bread’ according to Mintel’s Packaged Bread US 2016 report. 

The supermarket packaged bakery aisle in particular suffers badly in comparison to the much more exciting fare that is available in the bakery store and foodservice channels, where high end patisserie trends and fashions impact at a much greater speed. Mintel’s research reveals that a third of UK consumers agree the selection of cakes in supermarket is boring reinforcing the fact that packaged cakes are behind the curve on flavour innovation. 

In such an environment, the packaged bakery market could do with a shake-up with new varieties and flavours in demand as well as added sensory appeal offering potential to better engage consumers.

Colour has potential to invade the packaged bread ‘wall of beige’

Colour is a major sensory element that the bread aisle, being a ‘wall of beige’, generally lacks. According to Mintel’s 2016 food and drink trend Eat with Your Eyes, whilst flavour has long been the focus of innovation in food and drink in general, our more visual and sharefocused society calls for innovations that are boldly coloured, artfully constructed and sometimes just cool. Bright colours, as well as fun shapes and other whimsical attributes can help make the experience more fun. Traditionally, such attributes have largely only been seen in children’s products but more products for adults are likely to appear as a way of providing stand-out appeal. The key factor to remember is that although consumers find vibrant colours intriguing, many of them are looking at the ingredient statement, meaning natural colours will be favoured.

The use of colour remains limited in bread, although its potential role in helping to capture consumer interest has been enhanced recently by a plethora of global fast-food restaurants experimenting with coloured bread products. With rising interest in flavoured bread as well, there are likely to be more opportunities to develop this theme further.

In Japan, for example, Burger King created red burger buns in 2015, following the launch of black versions (which used bamboo charcoal and squid ink) in 2014. KFC China, meanwhile, has used bright pink burger buns for eye-catching appeal.  Bicolour croissants using strips of colour have also appeared at some upmarket bakeries and patisseries around the world and rainbow bagels have been trending in New York and London in 2016. Extending such concepts into the retail packaged bakery offering, as some cake brands have started to do for events like Halloween (think green slime colour for example), is an obvious next step.

To date, most innovation in packaged bread using colour has been seen in the less traditional bakery markets of Asia, with recent launches including watermelon red and green colours, pandan green and charcoal black, the latter imbuing bread with potential digestive health benefits. Along a similar health theme, purple bread using anthocyanins extracted from black rice, has also been touted as potential healthier option to white bread for people suffering from diabetes.

Product examples

Foods Plus Watermelon Strip Raisin Sliced Bread, Thailand
A very vibrant example of the use of colour, replicating the hues of a watermelon.

Swanish Roti Pandan Bread, Indonesia
Pandan is a popular flavour in SE Asian (most often as Pandan cake), traditionally derived from the juice of Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves. The light green tone is due to the chlorophyll in the leaf juice or is often enhanced with green food colouring.

Cubic Charcoal Butter Bread, Thailand 
A number of black charcoal breads have been seen in Asia, with charcoal supposedly offering digestive health benefits.

Texture is increasingly important in sweet bakery

More recently, some packaged cakes have more overtly referenced textural aspects on pack. Beyond softness, moistness, lightness, sponginess etc., that are typically the positive textural qualities associated with cakes, the ‘crunchy’ and ‘melt’ textural groups are perhaps the most interesting given they are at opposite ends of the spectrum and provide cakes with more unusual textural qualities. Premier Foods in the UK has enjoyed recent success with the latter ‘melt’ grouping via its Cadbury Hot Cakes launch.

According to Mintel’s Cakes and Cake Bars US 2016 report, almost a quarter of cake/cake bar buyers are interested in buying, and would pay more for, cakes made with ingredients that provide a range of textures (eg marshmallow, biscuit pieces, popping candy, jellies). A further half said they were interested in buying such products but would not pay more for them.

Product examples

The Menu Caramel Chocolate Malva Pudding, South Africa
This decadent malva sponge pudding is smothered in a rich caramel flavoured sauce topped with crunchy caramel bits.

Kobeya Cookie Doughnut, Japan
This crispy product retails in a single unit pack.

Whaou! Caramel Cracky Crepes with Crispy Cereals, France
Made with fresh milk from neighbouring farms and extra fresh eggs, and are free from colourings, preservatives and palm oil. 

Oreo Churros with Creme Filling, US
Said to be ready in minutes and describe as a melt-in-the-mouth chocolate stuffed churro with crispy exterior, real creme filling and Oreo cookie pieces.

About Mintel 

Mintel is the world’s leading market intelligence agency, delivering robust information, analysis and critical recommendations. Our experts analyse the global landscape to inform clients of current trends and help them anticipate innovation and interpret future consumer choices. All you need to know about markets, products and consumers. Now and in the future. Visit to find out more.

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