Here's an example of flour power. When the National Restaurant Association (NRA) announced its 2018 annual Food and Beverage (FABI) award honorees, nine of the 36 winners were bakery products and/or baking companies.

Speaking of all that dough, it’s not a stretch to see how the FABI winning items—and many more new products throughout the industry—address consumer interests (and operator needs) for artisanal, ethnic, snacking and/or clean label and sustainable attributes. 

If the FABI awards are any indication, it’s clear that bakeries still are helping restaurant operator customers—and consumers—address concerns related to clean label, health and/or ingredients sourced responsibly (certified). 

Among the FABI award winners was Simply Baguette, from Montreal’s Bridor Inc. Judges noted that diners will appreciate its simple, small ingredient list: only flour, water, yeast, levain (sourdough starter), salt and malt. Other FABI winners were Smart Flour Foods, Austin, Texas, for its Gluten-Free Hoagie Roll; Wild Flour Bakery, Longmont, Colo., for its Gourmet Gluten-Free Cookie Dough; and Sweet Street Desserts, Reading, Pa., for its individually wrapped Manifesto Gluten-Free Brownie. In the last case, Sweet Street notes its brownie uses cage-free eggs and a dark Honduran chocolate sourced from a women’s cocoa collective.

It's clear that bakeries still are helping restaurant operator customers—and consumers—address concerns related to clean label, health and/or ingredients sourced responsibly (certified).

Still more NRA exhibitors also targeted the same trends. Boulart Inc., Toronto, used the show to debut its Everything Bun, which officials said was “inspired by the popular bagel flavor but … redesigned as a ciabatta bun.” The pre-sliced bun also has few ingredients, is Non-GMO Project Verified, and is free of preservatives, additives and added sugar. It also is low fat, free of trans fat, and offers a good source of iron.

More companies emphasized ancient grains. For its part, Smart Flour Foods also introduced a line of gluten-free ancient grain Tavern Style Crusts, dessert bars, snack bites, Hoagie rolls and buns (featuring a proprietary sorghum, amaranth and teff blend). Canada’s Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads, Toronto, also introduced Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan including quinoa, spelt, buckwheat, kamut and a touch of honey.

Emphasizing sustainability this spring was foodservice distributing giant US Foods, Rosemont, Ill. The company promoted 26 new offerings in its Serve Good private label business including a Devonshire Premium Banana Chocolate Swirl Cake. Inspired by a Minnesota State Fair award-winning recipe, the cake features Fair Trade Certified semi-sweet chocolate and cocoa powder, Fair Trade Certified granulated and powdered sugar and Rainforest Alliance Certified banana puree. 

Last fall, La Brea Bakery, Los Angeles, introduced two La Brea Bakery Reserve Demi-Baguettes (French and Sourdough) exclusively in Kroger supermarket in-store bakeries. Officials noted that the 8oz Demi-Baguettes are “traceable from seed to loaf” and made with single-origin Fortuna Wheat, an heirloom cultivar farmed for flavor in Big Sky Country, Mon., using sustainable farming practices.

Another FABI award winner was a Florentine Honey Almond Bar from The Eli’s Cheesecake Company, Chciago. Eli’s notes that the product is handmade in small batches and features a “house-made” honey glaze with honey harvested by students at The Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. 

Still other NRA exhibitors blended artisan attributes with ethnic appeal. Another FABI winner was ACE Bakery, Mississauga, Ont. (part of Weston Foods Foodservice) and its Mini Schiacciatas premium Tuscan flatbreads. One-inch thick and pre-sliced, operators can use them for an authentic flatbread, an open-face sandwich or even a folded taco. Also touting ethnic appeal was NRA exhibitor Signature Breads, Chelsea, Mass.; which offers a Mexican street food style Torta Roll (also known as a Telera bun), as well as Sesame Steamed Slider Buns. 

Among those bridging the gap between ethnic bakery foods and snacks is Brazil’s Ofner, a Sao Paulo-based company known for confections, cakes, drinks and snacks. One the company’s NRA offerings was Pão de Queijo, a traditional Brazilian soft dough with a crispy shell, with parmesan flavor. It’s made with tapioca dough, egg, blend of cheese, whole milk and salt.

Still more bite-size bakery snacks offer more grab-and-go health appeal. This year saw PepsiCo leverage its Naked juice brand and extend it—at both retail and foodservice—into a line of snack bars. One of the 2018 FABI winners were new Naked Bars, a line of chilled fruit, nut and veggie bars. Offering the convenient nutrition and delicious taste for which Naked is known, the bars contain no preservatives, are excellent sources of vitamins A, C, E and iron and are verified by the Non-GMO Project.

Also targeting smart snacking is Susie’s Smart Cookie, Katonah, N.Y., which says its individually wrapped all natural oatmeal cookies (in four flavors) are rich in whole grains, fiber, protein and 2g of Omega-3 oils per serving. Likewise, Cookietree bakeries, Salt Lake City, used NRA to tout whole grain cookies and brownies that deliver one grain equivalent credit per serving in school foodservice.

Speaking of schools, one of the nation’s largest bakers, General Mills Foodservice, has been quite busy. During the past 12 to 18 months, the Minneapolis-based company has introduced Pillsbury Non-Whole Grain Biscuits, reformulated Pillsbury Mini Pancakes, a Pillsbury French Bread, Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and Pillsbury Filled Crescents.


NRA's annual food show featured several bakers with cross-category related items—embracing everything from cauliflower to coffee beverages.

Venice Bakery Gluten-Free Pizza DoughGluten-free pizza dough specialist Venice Bakery, Torrance, Calif., won two FABI awards. One was for its Plant Based Gluten-Free Crusts, in Broccoli Cheddar and Seasoned Cauliflower varieties. It also won for a new Gluten-Free Low Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust, a 10" crust with 26g of protein and only 3g of net carbs.


Aunt Millie's Bakehouse Daily KneadsAunt Millie's Bakehouse, Fort Wayne, Ind., introduced Daily Kneads, a line of whole grain, all natural Non-GMO breads, buns and flatbreads—with each serving providing at least one-half cup vegetable serving. Varieties include Carrot & Pumpkin, Red Pepper, Spinach & Leek, Sweet Beet and Tomato & Basil.


CoffeeInAConeSouth Africa's CoffeeInACone Inc., Johannesburg, says it's created the "World's Most Instagrammable" coffee. Starting it 2015, it found a way to create a baked cone with an inside lining of chocolate that holds coffee and prevents leaks. The company now has US distribution from offices in Charlotte, N.C.


Originally appeared in the August, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as Flour Power!