The Trend of Organic Bakes

The festive season is near. This is also the season when several marriages take place. It is a time for revelry and indulging in your sweet tooth. Cakes and other fattening food become a ritual in this season, in India. Nowadays bakery products are considered as an important segment of gifting in India, particularly in the metros of the country.

The fact that people are so much into desserts, particularly in this festive season, has led bakers to come up with innovations that are not only lip smacking but also healthy. These healthy bakery and confectionery products are the result of our health conscious times.

Health consciousness among the consumers has led to a rising market for organic baked products, and home bakers are playing a significant role in introducing healthy substitutes in baking cakes and in preparing other desserts.

Ashok Malkani takes a look at the changing scenario in India’s bakery industry and how organic bakery products are becoming popular both among the home bakers and as well as among other established bakeries in India

Bakery products are, today, gaining ground in India not only because of their pleasant taste, not only because they can offer affordable snacking options in between meals, or act as ready-to-eat lunch substitutes in these busy times, but also because of being spruced with healthy ingredients. like rye, maize, oats, wheat, among others.

Bakery products provide both convenience and affordability to the consumers which have resulted in an increased demand for these products in the Indian market. According to an IMARC report titled Indian Bakery Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2018-2023, the Indian bakery market reached a value of more than 6 billion USD in 2017.

As breads and biscuits are fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), they are consumed on a daily basis by the consumers, which increase the sales of these products in India. In addition to this, growth in the fast food chains further stimulates the demand for breads as they are used in sandwiches, burgers, soups, snacks, etc. Moreover, introduction of value-added bakery products is giving an impetus to the market growth. Apart from this, busy lifestyles, changing eating habits and western influence have reflected in a strong demand for bakery products in India. Looking forward, the value of bakery market, according to the above-mentioned IMARC’s report, is projected to exceed 11 billion USD by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of nearly 10 percent during 2018-2023.

Till the early 1990s, only the upper echelons of India’s society were inclined towards bakery and bakery products in India. But with growing disposable incomes and changing lifestyles in urban India during the last two decades, bakery products are becoming very popular among the middle class Indians as well.
Over the last few years, the bakery industry in India has been rising at a CAGR of 12-15 percent. With this impressive growth, the segment has created an opportunity for talented and expert bakers. The country has more than 2,000 organised or semi-organised bakeries and 1,000,000 unorganised bakeries.

Growing Health Consciousness

A growing trend towards healthy eating in our country is also reflected through the changing choices of bakery products. The rising demand for multigrain breads, wholegrain breads, sugar-free desserts and organic bakery products in our country points to this shifting in our eating habits. Due to rising health consciousness among the consumers, baking trend in the country has now been towards lighter products and towards those with allergen-free organic and whole grain ingredients.

An increased interest towards healthy bakery products in India has also been evinced in their fortification. Some of these inclusions include fibre, anti-oxidants, omega-3, and vitamin and mineral fortifications. Other inclusions which have been noticed in bakery products in more increasing frequency than before are fruits, nuts, certain spices, and cocoa.

It may be added that addition of inclusions to baked products may require modifications to the product formula and could, in the process, result in a new product. Such modifications could also, in some cases, need for a change in equipment, processing, scheduling and added ingredient costs, resulting in a hike in production costs.

Some of the bakeries, in response to the demand for gluten-free and allergen-free products, have resorted to using flours made from buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, flax, corn, rice, sorghum, wild rice, and other non-wheat grains. These flours offer tastes and textures that are uniquely different from wheat flours.

Health conscious consumers are also demanding whole grain products. Whole grains may be cracked, rolled and crushed but they must contain 100 percent of the original grain to be considered true whole grains. Whole-grain wheat flour is popular in breads and related baked goods, as are many gluten-free grains. The fibre, protein, vitamin, and nutrient content of whole grains tend to be higher than that of processed grains.

The growing demand for nutritional content in baked food with low sugar, whole grain and zero trans-fat per serving  have put the usage of healthy ingredients in the forefront, in India’s food retail and food service industry.

Furthermore, with growing obesity and diabetic rate in India, there is a growing interest in eating unconventional sweets. Several shops in Mumbai and other metros have sprung up offering sugarless sweets. Nowadays many bakers with a desire to cater to the needs of the health conscious are now crafting desserts that can be enjoyed without worrying about their side effects.

Ritika Agarwal, a nutritionist having a passion for food and a penchant for doing something creative and different in the field of health and nutrition, has, in collaboration with her friend, Pranita Kalyan, has written a book titled ‘Fit or Fiction,’ which states that the younger generation is becoming health conscious. She exhorts the younger generation to eat right and asserts that healthy food can be yummy too.

She is of the opinion that fast food culture is taking a toll on our health. She advises all age groups that it is important for them to know the source of their calories.

Adoption of westernised lifestyle, double income families, emphasis on healthier lifestyles, greater nutrition awareness than before, besides an increase in disposable income during the last decade-and-a-half in select but sizeable pockets of urban Indian society, are the major factors which are responsible for this healthy wave in India’s baked food industry.

This in turn is expected to drive up the demand for healthy bakery ingredients’ manufacturers in India. The focus would be on innovation in sweeteners, dry ingredients, starches and derivatives, oil and shortenings to meet the consumer demand for low trans fat and gluten-free products. 

Demand for Organic

The bakery products that are proving popular all over the globe are organic ones. Organic bakery products are ones which use organic ingredients and are free f r o m added preservatives. They are made using organic butter, organic flour, organic sugar or natural sweeteners, etc. Sugar-free organic bakery products are also gaining popularity among Indian consumers.

The Market Research Future (MRFR) predicts that global organic bakery is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 6 percent f r o m 2016-2022. According to a new study by Fact.MR, the global market for organic bakery is expected to reach 11000.7 million USD in 2022.

Looking at the growth potential of the industry, several enterprising people would want to enter this arena. But before venturing into this field one has to decide whether one wants to enter the organic bakery sector or the ordinary bakery segment.

Rising preference for organic bakery products among consumers is motivating manufacturers to use innovative technology and methods to offer new organic bakery products with enhanced taste and flavour. Manufacturers are also searching for new methods to increase the shelf-life of their baked products.

Manufacturers are also researching on natural preservatives that can keep the organic bakery products fresh for a long time. They are emphasising more on processes and equipment used in organic baking to ensure its quality till the time it reaches consumers.

According to a new market research report on global bakery market by Technavia, the bakery industry is witnessing a growing preference for organic baking products and ingredients such as aluminum-free baking powder, gluten-free flour. The report states that although organic baked goods are more expensive than conventional baked goods, the growing popularity of this segment among health-conscious consumers will support this segment’s growth.

The growing preference for organic baking ingredients will positively influence their production and consumption, thereby leading to more organic baked product launches.

Consumers’ demands for organic baked products free f r o m pesticides, chemical fertilisers and which are sugar-free and gluten-free are now being met by bakers. These satiate the desires of those who are aware of the rising obesity and diabetes and want to control their baneful influence on their lives.

Home bakers Opt for Organic Bakery

The demand for healthy bakery products has also prompted several home bakers in India to opt for healthy organic ingredients.

Chaitali Raizada, who started Taantraa Organic Handbaking in 2011, in Bengaluru, could be said to be among the first few organic bakers in the country. She claims that with the growing disposable incomes and lifestyle changes, consumers in the country are showing enthusiasm in bakery products that contain no pesticide, no chemical fertiliser, no antibiotics and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). According to her, vegetarian, vegan and allergen-free bakery products are increasing in popularity in India but they still remained a miniscule part of India’s bakery market. She remembers being one of the first organic bakers in town. She recollects that there was only one organic store in the city, when she started the baking business, and she had to book her ingredients well in advance.

Taantraa was among the first bakeries which introduced multigrain cakes with jaggery, or almond flour cakes. She claims that she is probably “the first in the world to bake a cake with moong dal, which remains my signature bakes.” Taantraa specialises in allergy avoidance and diet specific bakes.  Its products addresses a large spectrum of diets and dispositions including gluten allergy, nuts allergy, salicyclate allergy, diary allergy, diabetes, oil free living, flour free living, sugar-free living, paleo diet and the ketogenic diet. The ingredients Taantraa uses are mainly almond flour, millets, oats, nut meals and jaggery.

“There was one child who had never eaten a cake till she had visited Taantraa and with us she had her first cake. And she was eight years! Now our cake is the only one she eats,” recalled Chaitali excitedly.

Another Bengaluru-based organic bakery is Soul Bakers. Started by Meeta Walavalkar, this leading organic bakery in the city has changed the landscape of breakfast products market in Bengaluru, with enviable product portfolio and fan following.

Having worked for over 15 years, and facilitating in building strong brands and products for India’s large telecom, FMCG and retail companies, has enabled Meeta to get into the mind of the consumers and catch the right pulse of the market. This has led her to make interesting market discoveries and product innovations that have helped her in carving out a niche.

Soul Bakers specialises in breads f r o m organic ingredients. They make cookies and cakes that do not have any artificial flavours. They choose bakes that have at least one intrinsic raw material that will provide sweetness to the product so that they cut on the sugar usage and keep it well within the healthy category.

“For example, we make banana walnut cake. Banana is a natural sweetener and therefore we do not use as much sugar in this cake as compared to a regular cake. Similarly, we make oatmeal raisin cookies; in this, the raisin is a natural sweetener. In dates and walnut cookies, dates are the natural sweetener,” disclosed Meeta.

Soul Bakers is perhaps the only bakery player in Bengaluru that makes breads with organic ingredients with an FSSAI certification, based on food safety standards at a national level. It also makes special breads for cancer patients.

Meeta, who started this venture as a direct home delivery service, wants her products to be affordable.  Thus she wants to dispel the notion that organic food are costly and unaffordable. This was one of the reasons why she reverted f r o m retail to direct-to-home delivery model. She explains that retail margins, listing fees and returns f r o m shelves, besides hiring sales staff, make the product comparatively costlier in the retail shops.

Besides Bengaluru, Kolkata too has its share of talented organic home baker. Mallika Bhandari has started healthy, organic, and gluten-free bakery products in her bakery, Townhouse 10, since the last half-a-decade. This occurred to her after she visited Phuket Cleanse, a detox and wellness/fitness boot camp in Thailand. There she learnt about healthy desserts and gluten-free raw and vegan cuisine. She was stunned to learn that such a cuisine actually existed. “How could a dessert be prepared without butter, flour, white sugar, eggs or any fat?”, she wondered.

On returning f r o m Phuket, she tried to experiment and substituted unhealthy ingredients with healthier options. The baked goods that she produces now are devoid of artificial colour, flavour or preservatives, she claims. “We avoid use of white sugar, refined wheat flour and butter to produce delicious baked treats that are nutritionally rich,” she averred.

“Obesity, diabetes, intolerance to lactose and gluten as well as gastro-intestinal disorders can be avoided by going organic,” she claimed. Organic elements can limit chemicals and toxins f r o m entering your body.

“At Townhouse 10, we use only certified organic products, which include jowar, sunflower oil, coconut oil, brown sugar, and honey among others. Even the frostings used are organic. We substitute the bad-for-you ingredients with healthier options to cater to many dietary needs and restrictions,” asserted Mallika.

Sugar has become associated with obesity and diabetes. But with bakers now opting for sugar-free and organic ingredients, those with a sweet tooth can now indulge without worrying about their health.

People of all generations still want to have and enjoy a ‘sweet treat’ throughout the day or week. This is especially true in India. Now, with organic baking being available, they can eat their cake and be on healthy diet too!

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