Is it possible that the next emerging trend in commercial bread and baked goods, following the launch of gluten-free and other free-from products in the category, will be grain-free items? Barely Bread is betting on it.
“We strongly believe that ‘grain-free’ will be the new ‘gluten-free,’” predicted Amanda Orso, founder of the New York-based company, which is introducing a line of 100 percent grain-free breads this summer, including two varieties of sliced loaves, two flavors of bagels, and savory rolls. The products are made using a blend of almond, seed, and coconut flours instead of wheat, according to Barely Bread's website.
“Although gluten-free products have taken hold of the industry in recent years, we believe that consumers are also becoming more savvy to the idea that gluten-free does not automatically equate to health or nutrition,” she went on to explain. “The growing popularity of the Paleo diet has also driven more consumers to [a grain-free] lifestyle. Additionally, an awareness of preservatives, the desire for ‘clean’ ingredients, and ‘food as a benefit’ have proven to be important qualifiers in consumers’ food-buying habits. We’ve also found that consuming high-quality fat is becoming … an important food trend. Social media alone is filled with hash tags such as #eatfatgetthin, #eatfatlosefat, highlighting the growing awareness of the importance of quality fat in our diets, not simply for weight loss, but for brain health, good skin and overall wellbeing.”
Hearty but Light
That all sounds commendable, but how does Barely Bread propose to win over consumers’ stomachs as well as their minds? “We are appealing to consumers’ current wants and needs by delivering on taste, nutrition and performance,” noted Orso. “We believe there are more consumers every day who are passing on the bread basket or skipping the bread aisle in their attempts to avoid or reduce their intake of grains, gluten, preservatives, excess carbs and sugars. We have created a delicious bread the whole family can enjoy, with ingredients found in the pantry – not a lab – and with a hearty but light structure that stands up to thick nut butters, wet condiments, toasting, grilling and dipping.”
Although at presstime the product hadn’t hit store shelves yet, Orso asserted that “interest has grown in the past three years of development, as we’re finding, through research and direct interaction, that consumers are more interested in their health and are becoming more educated in the proper ways to fuel their bodies. Likewise, interest from retailers has escalated with the understanding that a growing number of consumers are following diets avoiding gluten and now grains.”
Beyond merely avoiding certain ingredients, however, she points out that these health-conscious shoppers “are also looking for benefits in their food, such as fiber and protein.” To that end, Barely Bread’s “truly unique” product line “accommodate[s] almost any diet or lifestyle – grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo, carb-conscious, low-glycemic, preservative-free and minimally processed – while delivering protein, fiber, good-quality fat and taste,” contended Orso.
To publicize the introduction of Barely Bread, the brand “will be launching a national social media strategy with targeted health-and-wellness ambassadors, as we launch online and roll out into stores,” said Orso, adding that a pre-launch Instagram post received almost 11,000 likes after a “wellness insider” received samples at a local New York City fitness event and posted her “avocado toast” on a Barely Bread bagel. “We are focused on, and also getting incredible feedback from, the fitness, food and fashion communities.”
Along with the social media blitz, “we plan to heavily demo our product in retail stores, as we know that tasting is believing!” she continued. “Our very unique packaging was deliberately created to stand out in the freezer and refrigerated sections, where our bread line will be sold.”
Following the big rollout, what’s ahead for what could very well be the next big thing in bread? “Development of snacks such as bagel chips and more, all of which follow the same pillars of taste, nutrition – grain-free and gluten-free, low-carb and low-glycemic, and high-fiber and high-protein – as well as performance, are underway,” promises Orso.
Panera Cleans Up Its Act at Retail
Panera Bread revealed in June that it would eliminate the remaining artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, and colors from artificial sources in its Panera at Home line of products. The St. Louis-based company expects its entire portfolio of almost 50 grocery items, including breads, to be free of its "No No List" of additives by the end of the year.
Panera has already committed to a clean-food menu at its nearly 2,000 U.S. bakery-cafés by the end of 2016.
“We’ve spent years building trust with our guests through transparency and investments in the quality of the food we serve,” said Panera founder and CEO Ron Shaich. “Panera at Home is an extension of that work – another way we are offering food as it should be beyond the walls of our bakery-cafés.”
The company’s commercial bread varieties are Country White, Honey Wheat, Multi-Grain and Tomato Basil. It also offers various frozen artisan bread SKUs.
License to Grill
Sara Lee, a brand of Horsham, Pa.-based Bimbo Bakeries USA, rolled out its Artesano brand nationwide last April, following a successful introduction in eight key test markets last fall. The national launch was timed to coincide with National Grilled Cheese Month and National Grilled Cheese Day on April 12, for which Sara Lee helpfully provided on-trend recipes and preparation tips. According to the brand, the home-style, soft-textured product, “[s]liced thick and ringed with a golden crust … rich with flavor and [offering] a distinctly creamy character … is also perfect for more creative recipes like paninis, French toast, bread pudding [or] strata.” Further, the bread contains no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup.
Referring to Artesano as “a rarity on the grocery shelves,” Sara Lee Brand Manager Ben Buch noted that the brand was “excited we can bring this quality product to consumers who value flavor and texture, and are looking to make their routine meal remarkable.”
The product’s distinctiveness applies even to its packaging: Artesano bread is dusted with flour before being placed in a frosted bag.