*By Ms. Niveda Bhadgaonkar,

Bakery trends show a major shift towards health and wellness globally. Cookies and cakes that are low in sugar, fat, high in proteins, and fibres, added with some herbal extracts, and yet tasteful are now being seen in mainstream markets, even in India. In a report shared by Innova Market Insights on Savoury Biscuits/ Crackers in Asia 2022, India has shown growth (as only second to the other Asian countries) in terms of New Product Development in high source of fibres at 7% from a period of April 2019 to March 2022. The first is Malaysia, which offers 10% of new releases and makes fibre-rich promises. India, the Philippines, and Japan have also shown strong levels of innovation and value growth in this same study over the same time frame.

These types of bakery products that are high in macro-nutrients provide unique textures that are unfamiliar to us. We were accustomed to eating crisp or crunchy cookies and biscuits.  However, there is currently a technical challenge that results in softer cookies with variations like high-protein or rich-in-protein cookies. These cookies usually resemble crisp cookies that have become soggy from exposure to moisture and air. Nevertheless, the increased protein makes the cookies softer. Because of this, producers and their marketing departments have cleverly branded them as high-protein soft-baked cookies.

When we were working in our application laboratories on such concepts, we also noticed these differences. We worked around the cookie concept and texture and understood that technically it was not possible to have crunchy texture with high protein. Hence, we developed a soft high protein baked cookie with 15% protein. The cookies had a soft cookie texture instead of the usual crunchy texture that we are used to in India. We tried various ingredients from our vast portfolio and developed this concept with proteins ranging from dairy to plant-based proteins. This helped us open a whole new world of textures in biscuits and cookies, that are new to regular the Indian market but at the same time  rich in nutrition, in this case, it is high protein cookies.

Another interesting play of textures was noticed when we started to work with a variety of soluble fibres. When added to biscuits, the biscuits tend to become hard. However, when added with a small quantity of insoluble fibres such as  brans, husk, and germs of various grains,  biscuits tend to be softer and not brittle. The property of imparting some hardness to brittle biscuits with insoluble fibres can be beneficial to manufacturers, as it will help them reduce breakages during storage on shelves and in transport. This can reduce the cost of high-class and sturdy hard paper packaging needed to keep biscuits intact without breakages. Also, the biscuits can have the goodness of a whole dietary form made up of insoluble and soluble fibres. These soluble fibres are not only a good source of fibres but also act as binders and hence impart the hardness. Thus, these soluble fibres are nutritionally and functionally unique ingredients.

Last but not the least, there are these “No-Added-Sugar” concepts. Here the cookies or biscuits are typically made with bulk sweeteners like polyols. In our application laboratories, we have been able to achieve the best cookies and biscuit recipes with highly functional and sugar-like structure components replaced with powder Maltitol. This is used in a 1:1 ratio replacing sugar, and hence, nothing changes in the recipe or processing. In terms of taste profiles, Maltitol is like sugar and does not impart any chemical notes, lingering taste or any synthetic or bitter after-notes. With a clean taste and excellent flavour enhancement, maltitol is the best replacement for sugar.

In a nutshell, bakery trends in India are here to stay and grow more towards healthier baking options, newer textures and ethnic or traditional flavours in the next couple of years. These healthier options are also driven by our regulations with the government prioritising on the fortification of products and going down on macronutrients like low fat, low sugar, low salt, no trans-fat, no cholesterol, and high on fibres and proteins.

*Head – Technical & Applications Development, Food & Nutrition, IMCD India