This article explores some of the challenges facing two key groups in the U.S. bakery sector: industrial producers of long shelf-life cakes, and manufacturers of cake premixes. We look at the consumer trends shaping these two segments of the American cake market, including demand for better-for-you and sustainably produced products. And we focus on what these changes mean for manufacturers’ choice of emulsifiers.
But while consumers’ appetite for premixes and long shelf-life cakes remains strong, their needs are changing. There is increasing demand for a wider variety of cakes, including better-for-you and free-from products.
Therefore premix manufacturers and industrial bakers both have to meet a growing number of consumer needs. Of course, people want high-quality products that are reasonably priced, but health-related and ethical considerations increasingly influence their purchasing decisions. American cake-eaters may variously expect their favourite products to be gluten-free, vegan, low-carb, egg-free, organic, low in sugar, low in saturated fat or low in trans-fat. The bakery industry has also been working hard to reduce partially hydrogenated oils, another ingredient increasingly linked to health risks. Meanwhile, as in other sectors, there is demand for leaner, simpler labels.
One area affected by such shifts is the choice of emulsifier. Emulsifiers fulfil vital roles in both premixes and long shelf-life cakes, but changing market needs mean that now may be the time to consider how they are sourced.
Environmental concerns are also increasingly important to consumers, nearly two-thirds of whom now expect companies to invest in sustainability.³
The bakery industry is no exception. Indeed, Mintel has predicted that sustainability will drive innovation in the sector over the next five years, with bakers expected to address the issue in new and creative ways4. At Palsgaard, we see direct evidence of this in our satisfaction evaluations, in which we ask our customers to rank the importance of different issues on a scale of one to ten. Sustainability now typically scores around nine.
Concern for the environment is fundamental to everything Palsgaard does. In 2010 we set ourselves the goal of completely carbon-neutral production by 2020 and met it two years ahead of schedule. This was primarily achieved by making tangible changes to the energy sources used by our factories. For example, at our Danish plant, we switched from oil to straw combustion to fuel indoor heating and converted all industrial boilers from heavy fuel to natural gas. We also installed regenerative heat exchangers, which have boosted heat recovery efficiency by over 30%. Our Netherlands site, where we have installed over 800 solar panels, has run off only renewable energy since the start of 2018.
As well as being manufactured in CO2-neutral factories, all our emulsifiers are plant-based, and sourced as sustainably as possible. Where we use palm oil ingredients, we rely exclusively on RSPO-certified raw materials, enabling us to offer our complete product range as Mass Balance (MB) or Segregated (SG) certified. By using RSPO-certified palm oil, we support improved conditions for local workers, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, and long-term economic viability.
Our commitment to sustainability received official bakery industry recognition in 2019 when we received the American Society of Bakery Bakingtech 2019 award for innovation in sustainability.
Palsgaard offers much more than emulsifiers and the know-how to apply them to cakes. As a global emulsifier manufacturer with over 40 years of experience in developing cake recipes, we engage deeply with our customers to help find new ways to meet consumer demands on a global scale.
Our six well-equipped global application centres, including one in Mexico which services the US market, enable us to work closely with customers, testing and creating new recipes and solutions for cake pre-mixes to meet a wide range of consumer demands. Customers may also benefit from our temperature and moisture-controlled chambers for shelf-life tests, and from our equipment for measuring water activity, water content, volume and softness of the cakes after baking. Our industrial-scale mini-factories help us make realistic trials which can easily be scaled up to industrial size.
How many specialized emulsifier and stabilizer manufacturers offer their bakery customers industrial-scale testing facilities? Our central application facilities in Denmark include a fully equipped industrial bakery where realistic industrial pilot tests are carried out on a regular basis. Industrial-sized mixers and aerators feed a dual-zone continuous band oven to accurately reflect industrial conditions. This unique setup facilitates proper upscaling and increases the likelihood of success in the market. As well as guidance on equipment and support with recipe development, we can run trials in the factory and even start the commissioning of a new factory.
Customers can also be assured that Palsgaard is committed to finding new solutions in the emulsifier space. Drawing on the extensive capabilities of our R&D organization, Nexus, we are constantly innovating to develop new versions of Emulpals® and Palsgaard® SA, as well as other types of emulsifiers. Our customers can harness that innovation to create concrete benefits, both for themselves and end-consumers.
The many advantages of powdered whipping-active cake emulsifiers over shortening and cake gels are clear: stability, shelf-life, simplicity, efficiency, and opportunities for better-for-you products. Industrial bakers and premix manufacturers who partner with Palsgaard get all these advantages. And they can also be confident they’re working with a company with a genuine commitment to sustainability, as well as decades of expertise.
So it turns out you really can have your cake and eat it too.
¹ Statista ‘U.S. population: Do you use dry cake mixes (not cake flour)?’ https://www.statista.com/statistics/277447/us-households-usage-of-dry-cake-mixes/
² Lorenzi, Neil ‘Demand for longer shelf life, fewer preservatives spurs new packaging solutions’, ‘Snack Food and Wholesale Bakery’, 14 September 2017
4 Mintel ‘The Future of Bread, Bakery and Cakes: 2019’