A 14-day shelf life is the gold standard for many manufacturers of packed industrial bread. That means the bread has to meet consumer expectations for softness, taste and appearance right up to the best-before date on the packaging.
Here at Nutrition & Biosciences, we put a lot of time and effort into the bread fresh-keeping challenge. Market research continues to show that freshness is the number one priority when consumers choose which bread to buy.
Actually, with today’s enzyme and emulsifier solutions, the fundamental challenge of extending fresh-keeping is relatively easily solved. Various mould-inhibiting ingredients are also available to keep bread microbiologically safe.
What concerns us more is how to achieve long-lasting freshness while meeting a range of other consumer preferences in international markets. That’s when it gets complicated.
In our lab, we have worked on developing a fresh-keeping toolbox to meet consumer preferences for premium, economy or GMO*-free bread products. Our goal has been to find alternative solutions that secure roughly the same level of bread softness 14 days after baking along with good resilience, a homogeneous crumb and satisfying eating properties.
The results of our application trials are mixed, showing that, while each solution has the ability to enhance certain quality parameters, another parameter is always disadvantaged.
For example, while our GMM*-free solution is perfectly capable of maintaining softness, resilience is reduced. And that causes the bread to feel sticky in the mouth. Another example is our enzyme-only solution for economy bread, which, in the sensory analysis, was perceived as lacking moistness.
The best result overall was obtained with a combination of distilled mono-diglycerides and anti-staling GMM enzymes. As our trials have confirmed, GMM enzymes are generally easier to tailor to a desired functionality than a GMM-free solution.
Our findings can be summed up in one general message. Everything is possible, but, when meeting specific consumer preferences, some kind of compromise is inevitable.
All the same, a fully optimised solution can come very close to giving you the all-round fresh-keeping quality you want. So, if 14 days of fresh-keeping quality is your ambition, premium, economy or GMO-free preferences can be satisfied at little expense.
*GMO – genetically modified organism, GMM – genetically modified material
Sensory analysis after 14 days