Africa and Middle East love sweet bakes, but want sugar reduction: DuPont

Sweet baked goods, particularly biscuits and cookies, are very popular in South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Pic: DuPont

South African, Egyptian and Saudi Arabian women see the appeal of healthier snacking options, but sweet baked snacks remain more popular.

African men and women enjoy sweet baked goods consumed throughout the day, between meals, at work, on the go, for school, as meal replacements and for “me times”, says Dupont.

“Growth markets in the Middle East and Africa are of particular interest to the sweet bakery industry,” said Lena Hamman, bakery marketing manager at DuPont Nutrition & Health.

According to Innova Market Insights, 57% of bakery launches in those countries are in the sweet segment, strongly led by biscuits and cookies.

A sweet survey

DuPont has, however, noted that women are becoming more aware of the health risks of consuming too much sugar.

“Women are the main decision-makers who choose what sweet bakery products to buy,” said Hamman.

“They are also the consumers who are most concerned about health, especially for children and family with a diet-related condition, such as type two diabetes. Sugar reduction is a key element in that.”

DuPont Nutrition & Health recently published the results of its survey gauging consumption of sweet versus healthy baked goods in South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The global ingredients provider commissioned market researchers GfK to undertake the study, which surveyed several focus groups of consumers between 24-45 years of age in all three countries in November 2016.

DuPont Nutrition & Health has published parts of the results in the form of white papers on its website.

The lure of something sweet

These revealed that, while sugar reduction is viewed as the top health priority in all three regions – especially among women – it has not dampened the popularity of sweet snacks.

“Sweet baked goods are very popular in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Africa and all three markets have a high snacking culture,” Hamman told BakeryandSnacks.

She said sweet baked goods (such as cakes, pastries and sweet biscuits) are the fastest growing bakery categories in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan.

Data from Euromonitor International notes that pastries and sweet biscuits will grow by 6% CAGR, while cakes will grow by 5% CAGR between 2015 and 2020.

“In all three markets, cakes, muffins, cookies and croissants are very popular snacks,” said Hamman.

“In addition, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, there is a large offering of traditional Arabic sweet baked goods, such as Baton Sale, Salizon or Sable in Egypt and Fayater, Kaak, Ma’amoul or Shabura in Saudi Arabia.”

Health on mind

Hamman pointed out, though, that findings showed the impact of demographic change and changing attitudes in these markets, noting that reducing sugar is an important concern, especially to mothers when thinking about their children.

“While sales of healthier baked goods are still very small in the markets surveyed, we can see there is a growing interest in health among certain consumer groups. Healthy eating is a raising topic of interest due to the growing obesity and diabetes rates in the region.

“Consumers’ top priority is taste and as long as there is no negative impact on taste, they are open to healthier alternatives,” she said.

Reduced sugar concepts

With this in mind, the DuPont bakery application team has developed a series of low sugar, high fiber bakery concepts for the Middle East and Africa.

“The feedback from our survey has given us important insights for future, market-specific concept development,” said Jan Charles Hansen, principal bakery application specialist at DuPont Nutrition & Health.

The company’s new concepts include a chocolate muffin with caramel filling, chocolate chip cookie and chewy chocolate peanut cake – all with higher fiber and 30-40% less added sugar than a standard recipe.

A soft croissant concept has also been formulated as an all-in-one blend with a shelf life of 28 days. Grinsted PowerBake 401 is suitable for both sweet or savory croissants.

“We develop concepts based on market trends to inspire our customers, hence we are using this consumer feedback to develop market specific bakery products for our customers in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan,” said Hamman.

DuPont has local offices in all three countries.

“These concepts are also relevant for other geographies,” added Hamman.

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