Above: Flowers' Bakeries Group expanded its Nature's Own Healthline banner to include Nature's Own Wheat 'n Soy bread. The bread contains 4.3 grams of soy protein per serving.
Growing demand for healthful bakery foods is one market segment bakers can tap into with soy ingredients. A consumer survey commissioned by the United Soybean Board in April 2004 indicates that 74% of consumers recognize soy as a healthful product. Out of 1,000 people polled, 74% also said that they plan to change their eating habits due to health and nutrition concerns. The United Soybean Board plans to release this survey at International Food Technologists' Annual Meeting and Food Expo held in Las Vegas from July 13 to July 16.
Consumers are not misguided about the health benefits of soy, and health studies continue to tout the benefits of this ingredient. The baking industry also is taking notice of soy's potential. Recently Flowers Foods Bakeries Group introduced Nature's Own Wheat 'n Soy bread to health-conscious consumers. The bread contains 4.3 grams of soy protein per slice and is available in the Southeast, Southwest
and Mid-Atlantic. Before bakery foods used soy ingredients, consumers "had to turn to less mainstream foods, like tofu or soy nuts," Janice Anderson, Flowers' Bakeries Group's vice president of marketing, says. "Now they can go to the bread aisle of their supermarket and find soy in a familiar food like bread."
Other bakery foods can take advantage of soy and its ability to target health-conscious consumers. To implement soy into bakery food formulations, this healthful bean can be processed into different forms. These forms include soy flour, soy germ isoflavones, soy isolates and soy lecithin.
"The functionality of soy in bread takes some thought," one soy supplier says. "Once the additions are more than 1.5%, it becomes an issue of balancing water, mixing, and the entire system. As you change one thing, you have to check other ingredients."
Demand for value-added products is on the rise, and soy adds health value
to bakery foods, according to many soy suppliers. Along with consumer interest, soy demands are causing soy suppliers to increase soy prices. One soy supplier plans to increase its soy-protein product portfolio cost by 5% to 15%. And, it is not alone. These price increases are due to sharp cost increases in soybeans, energy and manufacturing costs, according to several soy suppliers. Increased demand for soy overseas also is driving price increases.
However, certain soy forms such as soy germ isoflavones, soy isolates and soy lecithin are used in small amounts and still add health benefits to bakery foods and will not significantly affect a bakery's bottom line.
"Bakers need to have an objective in mind," one soy supplier says. "Soy is much more expensive, but bakers should create a formulation for a reason and those can be health or premium related."
Adding soy germ isoflavones
To support the search for healthful products, bakers can implement soy germ isoflavones into bakery foods. Soy germ isoflavones are 20 to 30 times more concentrated in nutrients than soy flour. According to one soy germ isoflavones supplier, it takes 400 lbs. of soybeans to produce 1 lb. of soy germ isoflavone. Soy isoflavones makeup 20 mgs or 2% of the germ. The germ is 40% protein, 15% fatty acid, and is a very good source of vitamin E and folic acid, one soy supplier says. Because the human body can only absorb so many isoflavones per day, soy germ only needs to represent 1% to 3% of the total formulation for consumers to digest its healthful benefits. The soy supplier suggests the typical amount is one gram per serving. By using soy germ isoflavones, bakers do not qualify for a health claim. However, bakers can put on the package, "This bread provides X mgs of soy isoflavones per serving," according to one soy supplier.
According to United Soybean Board's consumer survey, consumers recognize soy's healthful connotation when seen on food packaging. To satiate the demand for healthful foods, bakers can market bakery foods with soy germ isoflavones to niche markets. Several health bar and bread bakers are currently targeting women and their health needs with these products. Research studies show isoflavones may prevent breast and colon cancer, and improve bone and heart health. Soy germ isoflavones also are a natural alternative when consumed by woman¯40 years and above¯looking for natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy, one soy supplier says.
From the manufacturing side, soy germ isoflavones can be sprinkled on top of bread loaves. Soy germ isoflavones are smaller than flaxseeds, and do not affect bread flavor, one soy supplier says.
"Bakers need to have an objective in mind. Soy is much more expensive, but bakers should create a formulation for a reason, and those can be health or premium related."
Boosting protein levels
Soy flour is another soy ingredient that can can be used to formulate healthful bakery foods. Soy flour increases protein levels, which can appeal to carbohydrate-counting consumers. According to one soy supplier, soy flour has many stark differences from wheat flour. The largest difference is the protein percentage as seen below:
- Soy flour is 7.5% moisture, 53% protein, 1% fat, 30% carbohydrate and 18% fiber. Soy flour has 270 calories per 100 grams.
- Whole wheat flour is 10% moisture, 12% protein, 2% fat, 70% carbohydrate and 10.5% fiber. Whole wheat flour has 356 calories per 100 grams
These percentages can fluctuate due to how much moisture is absorbed by wheat and soy crops during the growing season. Refining methods and the influx of bran also contributes to percentage changes, according to one soy flour supplier.
When soy flour is 10% of the total formulation, it acts similar to fiber, which absorbs a considerable amount of water. Soy flour does not improve functionality in formulations and can decrease volume, one soy flour supplier says. However, wheat gluten can be added to replace the formulation's lost functionality. Besides a decrease in volume, soy flour at increased levels can add a green tint to dough. To protect dough from this greenish hue, bakers can add honey and molasses. This improves color and makes bread more palatable, one soy flour supplier says.
Soy flour is not the only source for reducing carbohydrates and increasing protein levels in bakery foods. Soy isolates can be used in combination with soy flour and wheat protein to reduce carbohydrates in formulations. One soy supplier's isolate is 90% protein and can be added at low levels when formulating low-carbohydrate bakery foods. When formulating low-carbohydrate bread, wheat protein tends to make dough very tight, which makes it difficult to mix. By adding soy isolates and soy flour, dough viscosity improves.
According to one soy supplier, soy isolates have a cleaner flavor than five years ago. Soy ingredients have better flavor characteristics due to improvement in manufacturing practices.
Another form of soy gives functionalaid to bread dough. Soy lecithin is a low-cost emulsifier that can qualify bakery foods for a health claim, one soy lecithin supplier says. Soy lecithin disperses fat evenly throughout the dough and eliminates fat by one-third. In protein-added breads and other bakery foods, soy lecithin improves dough machinability.
Besides improving functionality, soy lecithin is a source of choline and essential fatty acids. Several studies suggest lecithin enhances brain development and transports fat and cholesterol from the blood and removes them from the body. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a "choline content" claim for food. For bakery foods to qualify for a "good source of choline" label claim, they must contain 55 mgs of choline per serving. To qualify for an "excellent source of choline" label claim, bakery foods must contain 110 mgs of choline per serving. Soy lecithins also have phospholipids, which are important building blocks for cells, one soy lecithin manufacturer says.
Whether using soy flour, soy germ isoflavones or lecithin, bakers can market bakery foods to health-crazed consumers. Versatile soy products help bakers produce protein-added products as well as other healthful bakery foods to feed consumer's hunger for healthful foods.