Discover how the biscuit industry is adapting to consumer demands by incorporating diverse flour varieties, natural sweeteners, functional ingredients, and global flavours while providing convenient snacking options.

Biscuits, often considered one of the most beloved baked goods worldwide, have a rich history and a promising future. Biscuit production for the bakery industry continues to evolve, driven by consumer preferences, health-conscious choices, and innovative ingredients. In this feature, we delve into the world of biscuits, exploring the essential ingredients and emerging trends that are shaping the bakery production landscape. 

Flour varieties and health focus 

Whole Grains: With consumers seeking healthier options, bakers are incorporating whole grains like spelt, quinoa, and buckwheat into their biscuit recipes. These grains not only add a rustic texture but also boost the fibre and nutrient content, aligning with the trend towards better-for-you snacks. 
Gluten-Free Flour Blends: The rise in gluten intolerance and celiac disease has led to a surge in gluten-free biscuits. Bakeries are investing in gluten-free flour blends such as rice flour, almond flour, or chickpea flour, and are working to perfect the texture and taste of these offerings. 
Ancient Grains: Ancient grains such as quinoa, amaranth, and teff are gaining popularity in biscuit production for their unique nutritional profiles and distinctive flavours. For instance, Arrowhead Mills offers a variety of ancient grain flours that add depth of flavour and a wholesome touch to biscuits. 

Organic and Non-GMO Options: Flour production companies like Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Baking Company have embraced the organic and non-GMO movements. They offer a range of organic and non-GMO flours, ensuring that biscuit manufacturers can meet the demands of consumers seeking sustainably produced and genetically unaltered ingredients. 

Nut Flours: Nut-based flours, particularly almond and hazelnut flours, are being used to create gluten-free biscuits that are not only healthier but also incredibly flavorful. Blue Diamond Almonds and Oregon Hazelnuts are notable suppliers of high-quality nut flours, used by many biscuit manufacturers to impart a rich, nutty taste. 

Heritage Wheat: Some flour producers, like Central Milling, are reviving heritage and heirloom wheat varieties, such as Einkorn and Emmer. These grains are often less processed and retain more of their natural nutrients, making them appealing options for artisanal and health-focused biscuit recipes. 

Nutrient Enriched Flours: Flour companies are increasingly offering nutrient-enriched flours to enhance the nutritional value of biscuits. For example, flours fortified with vitamins, minerals, or plant-based protein sources like pea protein are becoming options for biscuit makers aiming to provide more than just empty calories. 

Custom Flour Blends: Many flour production companies work closely with biscuit manufacturers to develop custom flour blends tailored to specific recipes and dietary preferences. This level of customisation enables biscuit makers to create unique products that meet both taste and nutritional requirements. 

Incorporating these diverse flour varieties into biscuit recipes allows bakeries to cater to a broad spectrum of consumer preferences, from those seeking traditional, hearty biscuits to those demanding gluten-free, nutritionally enriched options. Flour production companies play a pivotal role in supporting these trends by providing high-quality, innovative flour options that empower biscuit manufacturers to meet the evolving demands of the market, all while maintaining the integrity and taste of this beloved baked good. 

Traditional ingredients out, innovation is in 

As plant-based diets gain traction, biscuit manufacturers are shifting from traditional butter to healthier alternatives like avocado oil, olive oil, and coconut oil. These fats contribute beneficial nutrients and unique flavours to biscuits. Bakeries are now also mindful of reducing saturated fats to meet dietary guidelines. They’re exploring fat-reduction techniques, such as air-whipping fats, to maintain the desired biscuit texture while lowering overall fat content. 

The desire for cleaner labels has prompted biscuit producers to experiment with natural leavening agents like cream of tartar, vinegar, or yoghurt, which can provide the same rise as conventional baking powder or soda. And to cater to vegan consumers and those with egg allergies, biscuit producers are exploring egg substitutes like applesauce, silken tofu, or aquafaba, a chickpea water byproduct, as effective binding agents. 

Sugar reduction and natural sweeteners 

In response to the demand for lower-sugar options, some biscuit producers are using sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol, which have fewer calories and a lower impact on blood sugar levels. As consumers become more health-conscious, there is a growing demand for biscuits with reduced sugar content. Key biscuit ingredient companies like Cargill have developed sugar reduction techniques, such as utilising sugar replacers like erythritol and stevia. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol with zero calories and a sweetness profile similar to sugar, making it an ideal sugar substitute in biscuit recipes. Similarly, stevia, derived from the leaves of the Stevia plant, is a natural sweetener that is significantly sweeter than sugar, allowing for lower usage while maintaining sweetness levels. 

Biscuit manufacturers are also increasingly turning to natural sweeteners like fruit purees to replace refined sugars. Companies like Tree Top offer a range of fruit purees, including apple, pear, and banana purees, which not only add natural sweetness but also contribute moisture to the biscuit dough. These purees are particularly popular in healthier biscuit variations, providing a subtle fruit flavour that complements various biscuit ingredients.  
Molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining, is a rich and robust natural sweetener that can be incorporated into biscuit recipes. Golden Barrel offers various molasses products that add depth of flavour and a touch of sweetness to biscuits. Molasses is often used in gingerbread biscuits, providing a unique molasses-spice flavour profile that is both comforting and nostalgic. 

Date paste is a natural sweetener derived from dates and is an excellent choice for biscuits aiming for a naturally sweet and chewy texture. Companies like Natural Delights offer date paste options that are free from added sugars and preservatives. Date paste is particularly popular in energy biscuits, where it contributes both sweetness and natural energy-boosting nutrients. 

Maple sugar, made from the concentrated sap of sugar maple trees, is another natural sweetener gaining traction in biscuit production. Butternut Mountain Farm provides high-quality maple sugar that can be used to add a subtle maple sweetness to biscuits without the need for additional refined sugars. 

Some biscuit ingredient companies collaborate with biscuit manufacturers to develop custom sweetener blends that balance natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and fruit purees. These custom blends ensure that the sweetness level is tailored to the specific biscuit recipe and consumer preferences while maintaining a clean label. By incorporating these natural sweeteners and sugar reduction techniques, biscuit manufacturers can create products that cater to health-conscious consumers without compromising on taste. Key ingredient companies play a crucial role in supporting these trends by offering a diverse range of natural sweeteners and collaborating with biscuit producers to develop customised solutions that meet the evolving demands of the market for healthier, more naturally sweet biscuits. 

Inclusion of functional ingredients 

In recent years, the health and wellness trend has extended its reach into the world of biscuits. Consumers are increasingly seeking snacks that not only satisfy their taste buds but also offer functional benefits. Biscuits with added probiotics for gut health and prebiotic fibres that support digestion are emerging as a popular choice. 

Some forward-thinking biscuit manufacturers are incorporating probiotics, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, into their products. These beneficial bacteria can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, potentially improving digestion and boosting the immune system. Companies like Nestlé Health Science are at the forefront of this trend, offering probiotic-infused biscuits that promote digestive well-being. 

Biscuits with added prebiotic fibres, such as inulin or chicory root, are also gaining attention. These fibres serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity. Biscuit ingredient companies like Beneo provide prebiotic ingredients that can be incorporated into biscuit recipes to enhance digestive health. 

Biscuit manufacturers are harnessing the power of superfoods and antioxidants to create biscuits that not only taste great but also offer potential health benefits. 
Turmeric: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is finding its way into biscuit recipes. Turmeric-spiced biscuits not only add an exotic flavour but also provide potential health benefits. Companies like Frontier Co-op offer high-quality organic turmeric that biscuit makers can use to infuse their products with this superfood’s goodness. 
Matcha, a finely ground green tea powder, is a popular ingredient for biscuits. It contains antioxidants called catechins, which have been associated with various health benefits, including improved heart health and cognitive function. Biscuit ingredient suppliers like Aiya provide premium matcha for use in biscuit production. 
Rich in antioxidants, cacao is a staple in the world of superfoods. Dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder can be incorporated into biscuit recipes to create antioxidant-rich treats. Companies like Barry Callebaut offer high-quality cocoa products for biscuit manufacturers. 

Flavour innovation and regional Influences 

Biscuit makers are increasingly drawing inspiration from international cuisines to create unique and exciting flavour profiles. These global flavours not only add variety to the biscuit market but also tap into consumers’ cravings for novel and exotic tastes. 

Inspired by Middle Eastern desserts like baklava and cardamom coffee, biscuit makers are infusing their recipes with the warm, aromatic notes of cardamom. This spice adds a delightful complexity to biscuits, appealing to those who enjoy the flavours of the Middle East. Companies like Penzeys Spices provide high-quality cardamom that can be used in biscuit production. 

Drawing from Mexican cuisine, some biscuit manufacturers are adding a hint of heat to their creations by incorporating chilli peppers or chilli powder. These biscuits offer a spicy kick that contrasts with the sweetness of traditional biscuits, creating a memorable taste experience. 

Snacking and portability 

The shift toward on-the-go lifestyles has led to a surge in demand for convenience snacks, including mini biscuits and bite-sized varieties. These smaller portions are not only practical but also allow consumers to indulge in their favourite biscuits without overindulging. 

Packaging biscuits individually in convenient, grab-and-go portions enhances freshness and convenience. This packaging style not only ensures the biscuits remain at their peak quality but also caters to consumers seeking portion control and a quick snack option. Many biscuit companies have adopted this packaging approach to meet the needs of busy consumers and to extend the shelf life of their products. 

In conclusion, biscuit production has evolved to cater to modern consumer preferences, offering functional benefits through probiotics and prebiotics, incorporating superfoods and antioxidants for potential health advantages, and exploring a world of flavours influenced by global and regional culinary traditions. Additionally, the industry is adapting to the fast-paced lifestyles of consumers by providing bite-sized and individually wrapped options for quick, convenient snacking. These trends showcase the dynamic and innovative nature of the biscuit market, ensuring that biscuits remain a beloved and versatile treat for consumers worldwide. 

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Editor: Kiran Grewal