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Bread Industry Gets Boost by Adding Nutrients

Adding Nutrients Equals Added Sales
While the low-carb phenomenon initially concerned bakers everywhere when sales plummeted, the industry made a strong comeback via education and the introduction of new products. Desperation is the mother of invention, and the bread industry seized what opportunity was at hand in the midst of the anti-carb trend.
So in 2006, over 1500 new whole-grain products were launched, compared to only 700 new products being launched in 2005. Ingredients such as folic acid offer nutritional benefits, and when baked items are enriched, expanded sales often result.  When omega 3s were added to some grain-based goods and the packaging advertised the bonus to consumers, those goods got a sales boost.
According to a March 2007 Harris Interactive Poll, 40 percent of adult consumers believe that bread provides health benefits, while only 12 percent thought so in 2005. With some education about the benefits of healthy grains in the adult diet, consumers have shifted their perceptions about carbs.
The Folic Acid Seal
The folic acid seal is intended to quickly and easily identify those products rich in folic acid, like enriched grains, which are essential to having a healthy baby.  Since the FDA issued the mandate, neural tube defects in the US have declined by nearly one-third, sparing some one thousand babies each year.
The March of Dimes urges all women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy and continuing into the early months of pregnancy. Bread, crackers, bagels, pasta, pretzels and tortillas made from fortified, enriched white flour are popular and important sources of folic acid. 
Not enough American women understand that consuming the B vitamin folic acid every day can help prevent serious birth defects, and only 40 percent are taking daily multivitamin supplements containing this essential nutrient beginning before pregnancy. 2008 marks the ten-year anniversary of folic acid fortification to enriched flour. Since the FDA issued the mandate in 1998, neural tube defects, including spina bifida, have declined. "Enriched grains are an easy, inexpensive and delicious way for women to get essential vitamins such as folic acid,- noted Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation.
A new March of Dimes survey conducted by the Gallup organization and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals only 11 percent of women of childbearing age said they knew that folic acid should be consumed prior to pregnancy. With enriched products bearing the seal, hopefully more women will read about and understand the importance of folic acid.

By Adam Herschkowitz
Get Baker Jobs, Contributing Editor

Sources: and IRI and Mintel.

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