Bakers have had success reducing sodium, sugar, fat and chemical-sounding ingredients over the past few years, but now they may wish to focus on increasing another element — taste. “What a great job we did as an industry,” said Ryan Smith, vice-president and general manager of bakery for Kerry Americas Region, a taste and nutrition company. “We reacted quickly. You can see the last 10, 13, 14 years. You can see how hard we’ve all worked to go out and respond to the consumers.”
Often leaving ingredient lists were DATEM, sodium stearoyl lactylate (SSL), calcium propionate and mono- and diglycerides. “But somewhere along the way, we forgot about the world of taste,” Smith said at the recent American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2017 in Chicago.
Food formulators should know all the ingredients (some new to industry) that may assist in adding back taste. He gave sugar-reduced cookies as an example. Sugar modulator systems have improved, such as stevia extracts being paired with flavor modulators.

“They are really different than what was being formulated in the past. They are much more effective,” Smith said. Also in reduced-sugar cookie applications, emulsifiers void of partially hydrogenated oils are available. Soluble fibers may build back bulk, viscosity and mouthfeel. Of clean label, he added, “Don’t think about it anymore as a destination.”

Convenience & Indulgence

Michael Strauss, director of marketing for Cookies United, says grab-and-go products are the biggest trends in cookie production right now. “People want and need pre-packaged goods now more than ever,” he says. “Customers are willing to pay a premium for that conveniently pre-package item. Another trend is, of course, innovation. People crave something new and exciting, and when you put these two trends together you have a winning product.”

Cookies United has tapped into these two trends with a new CakeBite product line. This traditional bakery favorite is now available for the first time as a pre-packaged item. “Not only do we have triple layer pre-sliced cake product that tastes amazing, but the packaging allows us to be incredibly versatile depending on the market it’s being sold in. We have singles, four packs, and club packs.”

Strauss says that Cookies United also has the ability to create new and innovative products with a wide range of equipment. “We also have the highest of standards set for our bakery. Being certified SQF level 2 means everything is always working at its absolute best from an ingredient standard to food safety standard.”

William Toler, president and chief executive officer of Hostess Brands, Inc., recently announced the launch of the Hostess Bake Shop for the instore bakery (ISB) category. The potential for Hostess in the ISB category has been highlighted by Hostess executives on numerous occasions since the company acquired Superior Cake Products in June 2016. Still, details of how Hostess would build out the relatively modest Stockbridge, Mass.-based business had been scant.

In addition to introducing a Hostess Cupcake cookie, a version of the Superior black and white cookie with the Hostess squiggle, Toler said the Hostess Bake Shop line will feature triple-dipped Ding Dongs and decorated Twinkies.

The (ISB) category is currently growing around 4% annually, which last year was faster than the center-of-the-store, sweet baked goods category,” Toler said. “Superior’s product line includes eclairs, black and white cookies, madeleines brownie bites, and creampuffs, all new products to Hostess. We plan to leverage our distribution model and resources so this primarily northeastern-centric company can be rolled out across the country in conjunction with our launch of the new Hostess Bake Shop line into the instore bakery.”

Design & Color Solutions 

Supermarket bakeries continue to raise the bar of creativity for cookies sold through the instore bakery department. 

Heather Sisson, vice president of customer relations at Lucks Food Decorating, points out that Lucks offers products that simplify the decorating process and that allow for consistency, especially when applying to cookies in wholesale manufacturing plants.

“We are getting more demand for Edible Image decorations that are in custom shapes and designs that match perfectly with our customers’ cookie designs,” Sisson says. “This product is ideal for large volume application. Dec-Ons sugar decorations are being used on iced cookies to add a theme icon.”

Whether customers are looking for color solutions for cookie dough or the icing, Lucks can work with them to create the right color solution for their needs. “For high volume production, we right size the color packaging to match production batches as well.”

In another trend, Lucks works with customers to develop natural product solutions both for decorations and for colors. “We understand which ingredients they cannot use and formulate the right solution to meet their need,” Sisson says. “We help accounts like Panera convert their cookie program to natural decorations.” 

All of Lucks products are made in the USA, and the company offers trend-forward solutions as they watch the industry and create designs that pro-actively anticipate the decorator’s needs.