KANSAS CITY — Fresh and natural are two desired attributes for baked foods. Achieving both throughout a product’s shelf life may be problematic, but advancements in preservatives perceived as natural that replace chemical preservatives are making such clean label efforts less difficult.

Studies show the market for clean label baked foods is sizable.

A 2019 study from the American Bakers Association involving Generation Z and millennial customers found that across all product categories, the two generations gave “whole grains,” “freshness” and “natural ingredients” as the most important nutritional descriptors for baked foods.

A 2019 global report involving 22 countries from HealthFocus International, St. Petersburg, Fla., showed 63% of respondents said they were “extremely interested” or “very interested” in eating clean. Within that group, 72% said they wanted to avoid chemicals and artificial ingredients in their food.

A 2018 report from the Food Marketing Institute (now known as F.M.I. – The Food Industry Association) and Label Insight asked people what descriptions appearing on product packaging influenced purchase decisions. The top answer was “no preservatives” at 42%.

“Many clean label bakery products have become mainstream, creating a demand for clean label breads, flatbreads, tortillas, cake and muffins,” said Ken Skrzypiec, vice-president of sales for Brolite Products, Inc., Streamwood, Ill.

Calcium propionate, potassium sorbate and sodium propionate are common chemical preservatives that bakers want to remove, he said.

“Cultured ingredients like wheat, starch, dextrose, whey or corn syrup solids, vinegar and/or other natural acids can be used to keep a clean label with a longer shelf life,” Mr. Skrzypiec said. “Brolite’s NI Natural Mold Inhibitor is a cultured product that produces propionic acid naturally that keeps mold at bay.”

What’s on tap at BakingTech

Brolite will have a tabletop exhibit at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech annual meeting March 1-3 in Chicago.

The technical team for DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, a business of DuPont, will be at the company’s BakingTech exhibit to discuss the merits of using Natamax, which has the natural mold inhibitor natamycin as an active ingredient, and enzyme-based preservation systems to extend shelf life in baked foods, said David “Guilley” Guilfoyle, group manager, bakery/fats and oils for DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences and based in New Century, Kas.

bread rolls“The majority of baked goods focused on artificial preservative replacement have been in premium breads, with a movement into mainstream breads,” he said. “We see very little artificial preservative replacement in sweet goods at this point. There are some sweet goods, such as mini donuts, where ‘hyperextended’ shelf life is necessary, and in that case, natural preservatives have been identified as a way to achieve such a long shelf life.”

In bread and rolls, cultured dextrose and cultured wheat starch are replacing artificial preservatives like calcium propionate and sorbates, he said.

“If a bakery wants to move out to 21 days of shelf life, this becomes more of a challenge as those natural preservatives typically do not keep the products from molding out to that length of time,” Mr. Guilfoyle said. “Bakeries are asking for another natural preservative to keep their products mold-free, and natamycin can keep bread and rolls from molding out as far as 100 days. The only caveat is that it requires keeping the area between the oven exit to packaging very clean, and it also requires a spray application of the natamycin after the de-panner.”

Natamycin works well in sweet baked goods as well, he said.

In the bread and roll category, calcium propionate is an item that many bakers want to remove in clean label efforts, said Matt Feder, senior vice-president of sales for Cain Food Industries, Inc., Dallas. In sweet goods, bakers seek to remove potassium sorbate.

“Any type of grain can be fermented to be used as an alternative to artificial options,” he said. “We mainly see fermented wheat and starches in the baking industry along with some fermented sugars as well.”

Cain at BakingTech will promote AlphaFresh, which may be labeled as cultured wheat flour and delivers mold inhibition for up to 21 days in baked foods.

“Our sales team is seeing and getting requests across the spectrum in the grain-based foods category the desire to replace artificial preservatives,” Mr. Feder said. “More and more companies are delivering clean label products, and you can’t achieve that without a natural preservative.”

J&K Ingredients, Paterson, N.J., offers Bred-Mate, a line of mold inhibitors derived from fermentation and used in baking applications, and Sor-Mate, a mold inhibitor that serves as an alternative to sorbic acid or potassium sorbate. Corbion, which has a U.S. office in Lenexa, Kas., offers Verdad MP100, a combination of vinegar and natural flavor that matches the mold-inhibiting functionality and flavor neutrality of calcium propionate, according to the company.

Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa, offers Fortium RV, a blend of rosemary extract and ascorbic acid in a liquid base such as vegetable oil. It has been shown to lengthen the shelf life of bulk oils as well as baked foods and snack items. Kemin last October opened a 2,300-square-foot Bakery Innovation Center at its global headquarters in Des Moines. The $1.5 million investment will allow Kemin to help bakery and snack manufacturers to expedite commercialization of new bakery products.

Enlightened eating

Clean label preservatives are part of an “enlightened eating” trend, said Johan Sanders, Ph.D., chief product officer for Dawn Foods, Jackson, Mich.

“Given this trend, at Dawn, we recognize the benefit and need for clean label preservatives among our bakers and are therefore in the process of incorporating these into many of our products,” he said. “We started this new technology with new natural preservatives filling and will fast follow with other clean label product lines.”

Dawn Foods plant-based preservativeDawn’s customers increasingly are wanting sorbic acid replaced in their baked foods, he said.

“In the baking space specifically, sorbic acid has become one of the most common food preservatives used in products and is also found in the ingredient list of many dried fruit products,” Dr. Sanders said. “While sorbic acid is naturally occurring in some berries, the majority of this type of acid is produced synthetically. Dawn is looking to produce sorbic acid for bakers that is not only natural but will keep the consistency and the quality of the product.”

Developing plant-based preservatives is a “huge opportunity” in the clean label category, he said.

“For example, fermented (fruit seed) preparations are a great option for plant-based innovation,” Dr. Sanders said. “Although these preservatives are natural, they have very similar properties to artificial preservatives. One of the unique innovations that we offer at Dawn Foods is plant-based preservative technology that can be applied to many wet baking ingredients, including flat icings, glazes and fillings.”

He added, “While the shelf life of individual products varies, the ultimate goal for clean label preservatives is to achieve the same shelf life as artificial preservatives. As Dawn’s research and innovation team continues to invest in the clean label preservative space, we have developed the capability to achieve a similar shelf life with natural preservatives.”