Growing Interest in Specialty Bread

With the rise of gluten free dining and carb-eschewing diets like Paleo, bread has been getting beaten up lately.  Now that bread is seen more as an indulgence, consumers are treating the sandwich staple with more revere, and expecting better options.  Jana Mann, senior director of menu research firm Datassential, noted that consumers are drawn to breads that evoke freshness, speciality or ethnicity, or seem in some way to be premium products.

Baking bread in house in nothing new, but larger chains are getting into the swing of things by product smaller, easier breads like pretzels and focaccia in house.  “Pretzel” was the fastest growing bread descriptor on menus in 2014 and for good reason.  Ms. Mann notes that pretzels have an approachable but also ethnic heritage, and can work in both sweet and savory applications.  Wendy’s recently launched a Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger as a limited-time offer, but it was so popular that the brand returned the item to the menu permanently.

Datassential’s Mann notes that like pretzels, other ethnic breads such as bao buns, Indian naan, and Mexican telera rolls can be used to add a slightly exotic feel to familiar foods.  “Consumers can’t eat two things they don’t know, but pairing something unfamiliar with something familiar grounds it,” she said.  It’s not much different from adding unfamiliar or unconventional toppings to pizza, she added.

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