8 ways to bake a clean label product.

The clean label trend is gaining serious traction with consumers and bakers around the world. Over 75% of respondents in a recent survey of 1,300 consumers in Europe, North America, and Asia showed a willingness to buy clean labelled products over others. An opportunity in clean labelled baking is seen as over 52% of respondents showed a willingness to pay 10-50% extra for products with clean labels.

What is a clean label and how can you achieve it?

Clean label, as perceived by a consumer, is regarded as a minimally processed product made from a concise list of consumer-recognized ingredients. While FDA has no standard definition of a clean labelled product, health-conscious consumers have framed their understanding around the term. The important aspects of the clean label include:

  1. The simple and short consumer-friendly ingredient list
  2. Natural/organic ingredients
  3. Minimally processed ingredients

Consumers demand persistent sensorial properties, such as taste or smell, with more natural ingredients. This forces product developers and bakers to look for alternatives to replicate the functionality with minimal processing and consumer-friendly ingredients. Conventionally used products such as artificial chemicals, preservatives, colors and flavor agents are now regarded as “dirty label ingredients.” The evolving definition of clean label also demands GMO-free products.

Here’s a good place to start

To achieve a completely clean label, it is always easier to replace one ingredient at a time. It is important to look into the functionality of the ingredient to be replaced and bear in mind the possibility of multifunctional ingredients.  Adjusting your process can also make a difference. There’s a lot to evaluate, so here’s a starting point for replacing “dirty label” ingredients.

Ingredient-based solutions

Colors and Flavors: Sensorial functionality is directly associated with product colors and flavors by the consumer. You can replace such artificial ingredients with concentrated natural alternatives and gel-based systems. Simultaneously, it is also important to keep an eye out for system dilutions and taste in such natural ingredients. The natural alternatives to very specific bakery flavors such as butter, dairy and yeast-based extracts are also available in the industry. Malt has come up as a very strong butter and dairy flavor replacer for clean label formulation.

Dough Conditioners: Processing functionality, such as stress reduction (internal and external) is achieved by the addition of dough conditioners. DATEM and SSL have been used in the past to strengthen the dough. Although expensive, a common alternative is vital wheat gluten. Additionally, enzymes such as glucose oxidase, transglutamase, xylanase and phospholipase are also used in a blend to achieve outstanding results.

Emulsifiers: Emulsification properties can be achieved using Alpha-cyclodextrins in the frosting where processing flexibility is possible. Additionally, you can also replace up to 30% of eggs with Alpha-cyclodextrin. Canola, soy and sunflower lecithins serve as a good starting point for replacing PGMEs in cake formulation. Further, the latest alternative is wheat protein isolate coupled with an enzyme blend can be the next step.

Enzymes: Enzymes act as a natural alternative for numerous ingredients to replicate their functionality in modern baking. Flour quality and emulsification properties are few amongst others. Additionally, we have noticed the significant water absorption capacity in enzymes in-turn improving the product shelf life. Enzymes blended with organic acids have been used to replace chemical ingredients such as potassium bromate, ADA, DATEM and SSL.

Other Ingredients: a few successful dirty ingredient alternatives such as leavening agents, chlorinated flour, trans-fat containing fats, antioxidants and chelating agents like TBHQ with different techniques. Check out our Clean Label BAKERpaper on the Academy to see how. Also, more natural alternatives to modified starches and fibers are explained in it, including a novel methodology using pregelatinized starch, aquafaba, soluble fibers and maple fibers.

Equipment-based solutions:

  • It is possible to replace ingredients to hydrate dough by process modification, such as using a sponge or including a brewing process to naturally hydrate the dough.
  • You can replace multiple dough conditioners using stress-free dough systems to make the ingredient list significantly shorter.
  • Thermal profiling, easy to sanitize cooling system and air filtration systems show replacement opportunities for ingredients such as mold inhibitors.

Ingredients can help develop better quality and efficiency over time. The process modification using novel equipment methods works as a long term solution. So by trying and testing, you’ll be able to find the right combination of technologies to move your product into a clean label.

To learn more about these solutions and the companies who supply these ingredients, check out our BAKERview seminar video!

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