Apple flour making inroads into commercial baking applications

Forbidden Foods Group was launched in 2010 by Jarrod Milani and Marcus Brown who both share a passion to provide some of the best health foods across Australia and internationally. Forbidden Foods flagship product of Black Rice was released to the retail and foodservice market nationally and internationally.

Since launching, Forbidden Foods have expanded into supplying a range of speciality rice flours to food manufacturers. Its bespoke rice flour range has been used in baked goods, soups, baby foods, snacking and plant-based foods. Having success with their rice flours, Forbidden Foods explored the potential of releasing a range of Australian-made, new and exotic flours that are not offered in the global market.

In 2019, Sensory Mill was created under Forbidden Foods Group, to provide ingredients for the food enthusiast. Sensory Mill offers a range of alternative products for use in manufacturing including powders, grains and blends and its newest release of an exotic flour range.

The flour range accentuates the core belief of Sensory Mill, which is to strive towards improved sustainability and traceability of products, while providing enriching ingredients.
The company’s newest standout product – which was released in January 2020 – is its apple flour, which is available in the retail and foodservice market.

To promote the idea of Farm-to-Plate, Sensory Mill has collaborated with Bellevue Orchard and Australian Dehydrated Food (ADF) to promote and introduce Australia’s first apple flour to the market.

Bellevue Orchard is a third-generation, family-run apple orchard located in Victoria, Australia and have been producing apple juice since 1998.

The orchard is owned by two brothers, Robert and Joe Russo, who continue to work there, however now run by Joe’s daughter Bernadette and Robert’s son Nick.

ADF is an Australian company that specialises in advanced and rapid dehydration technology to produce the dried foods sourced from Australia.

ADF’s Chris Mamas worked alongside Forbidden Foods and Bellevue to meet outlined requirements and specifications.

“Our aim is to work with natural, unadulterated raw material inputs, resulting in the most aromatic, tasty and nutrient-rich powdered foods on the market, which I believe we have achieved with the apple flour,” he said.

Forbidden Foods, Bellevue Orchard and ADF all have a strong ethos against food wastage, which was the basis upon their collaboration for Forbidden Foods to release, market and promote the apple flour to the retail and foodservice market. Nick Russo indicated that food wastage avoidance has always been a priority of theirs.

“Our goal has always been to make use of every part of the apple. Working with Forbidden Foods and ADF is the final piece of making this a reality with Bellevue being a zero-waste facility,” he said.

“We hope to divert over 800,000kg of wastage per year, into a premium product for market,” said Russo.

Bellevue worked alongside Forbidden Foods and ADF, to initiate production of apple fibre from the pomace in a patented process.

Bellevue realised the apple pomace wastage remaining after the juicing process was becoming costly to re-distribute to farmers for feed, or to move to landfill.

Moving the apple pomace was starting to take a strain on the local environment surrounding the orchard, with potential of having widespread effects.

After 18 months of trials, technology was developed for efficient dehydration of apple fibre to produce a food ingredient for human consumption.

The wasted apple pomace from juicing was drained and ground into a thin layer to be dried out and dehydrated. Once the pomace was efficiently dried, it enters the multi-step milling process that produced a fine flour ready for packaging and manufacturing.

Incorporating apple flour into products on an industrial scale can reap many nutritional benefits to the population.

Finished products with apple flour acting as a core ingredient will provide a nutritionally rounded profile.

Due to the high dietary fibre content of the flour, it has a wide range of antioxidants that are believed to assist in the reduction of cholesterol. The soluble and insoluble fibre within the flour will regulate the digestive system while promoting bowel health and growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Milled apple flour is extremely fine, allowing it to be versatile in manufacturing and production.

It has many applications ranging from acting as a thickening agent in sauces and mixes, to being incorporated into bakery and snacking products.

The by-product flour is a great absorber of liquid causing this product to be an efficient binder in recipes, particularly in raw snack products that undergo minimal heat exposure.
Having a low sugar content accompanying the high soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, this flour can help control blood sugar levels.

Having low-fat content, it is a suitable ingredient when manufacturing low fat products for consumption.

The properties of the flour allow it to act as a replacer while extending shelf life for long-lasting and shelf-stable products when stored in ambient temperatures.

Apple flour is said to have a naturally sweet flavour that is not overpowering to the palate. The inclusion of the apple flour in baking may avoid the need for additional sweeteners.

Being gluten free, apple flour can be blended with all-purpose gluten-free flour to become a baking staple for the gluten intolerant community. This product can be blended with an array of flours for usage in baking to create high fibre goods.

True Foods sees the benefits of innovation

A large audience gathered at the Victorian Manufacturing Showcase in Ballarat to hear from business leaders about challenges and opportunities in emerging growth sectors, writes Hartley Henderson.

Key factors considered central to success in today’s changing manufacturing environment included an ability to adapt, the development of a competitive risk-taking culture, and exploiting collaboration with other companies and universities.

Also highlighted was the critical role of strong leadership, involvement of employees in seeking new ideas and productivity improvement, and recognising the importance of consistently delivering quality added value products for clients.

True Foods is an Australian owned family business that was established in 2001 as a specialist manufacturer of flat bread products.

In 2011 the company purchased a major production facility in the Victorian regional town of Maryborough which consists of 27 acres with 3 acres under roof.

True Foods Director, Mark Thurlow, says the company has experienced enormous growth in its production capabilities, now employs some 250 people, and has an annual turnover of around $50 million.

“We have grown to become the largest Australian-owned manufacturer of Tortilla Wraps, flatbread products, and bakery snacks such as crumpets and pikelets, and this is supported by a supply chain that distributes significant volumes of shelf stable, ambient and frozen products nation-wide,” he said.

“Innovation is a driving force in our success and we continue to invest in new capabilities and capacity to bring innovative new products to market for our customers, which range from large multi-national supermarket brands and international franchise groups to weight-loss companies and health food chains.

Image 1

“Our culture of innovation is aimed at finding unique solutions across the entire value chain – from new product development, to purchasing of raw materials, and finding new production and supply chain efficiencies. We are always looking to invest in new capabilities that are synergistic with our existing purchasing, production and supply chain efficiencies.

“The focus on innovation is backed by an R&D team that is equipped for rapid prototyping to help us quickly focus on a clients’ specific brief, and our multiple production lines have all been modified to make slightly different products. This in turn means that the company has some of the broadest capability in Australia to offer a range of products, with or without inclusions, and to make multiple health claims.

“We are constantly increasing the range of products we offer, and because of our ability to run segregated production lines, allergen-free, gluten-free, organic, Kosher or Halal products can be effectively processed.

“It is people that make a business and development of a loyal culture and a highly reliable workforce is essential. We have established a diverse management team with backgrounds in food manufacturing, food technology, logistics management, corporate finance and marketing, and a key feature of the company’s culture is to encourage and listen to employee ideas.”

Collaboration benefits

Thurlow says great emphasis is also placed on collaboration, communication and the sharing of ideas, both internally, with suppliers, and with valued customers.

“For example, True Foods enjoys a wonderful working partnership with the team at Laucke Flour Mills, with significant collaboration on many of the technical aspects of flour right across the supply chain – from sourcing grain, to developing technical specifications, right through delivery and final use in our facility,” he explained.

“Both companies have invested considerable time to better understand the requirements of the other, and through this transparent and collaborative approach we have built significant trust.

“Through their hands-on approach, world-class equipment and technical knowledge, we have developed a flour that consistently meets our specialised needs, and we continue to work on cross-seasonal strategies.

“Actively engaging with our partners at all levels is a central feature of our operations. This includes identifying emerging trends and working with our partners to develop market leading products, achieving supply chain efficiencies, and utilising lean manufacturing to drive costs out at all levels of our production process.”

According to the General Manager of Laucke, Peter Cobb, locality is a key factor in enabling strong collaboration between Laucke and True Foods. “We are positioned at Bridgewater on Loddon, which is only about 40 minutes by road from True Foods in Maryborough,” he said.

“This assists many areas of collaboration, including in product development because we are able to instantly run samples from our laboratory to True Foods and thereby help our client to keep ahead of the game.

“Close geographic location also applies to logistics where collaboration with another partner, CVT Transport, which is located in Maryborough, provides very fast and reliable delivery of the main bulk ingredient flour in specialised tankers from Laucke storage containers to True Foods, where the flour is blown into their bulk storage facility.

“In this way, raw materials supply is managed in an extremely efficient and reliable manner to give True Foods comfort in its scheduling, which in turn also benefits effective scheduling at Laucke.

“Strong collaboration is providing a strategic advantage by enabling differentiated supply options to be offered to ensure the management of quality as well as efficiency in delivery of tailored products to our client.

Image 3

“We have developed a flour specific to True Foods requirements to ensure that it goes through its automated plant in a certain way, ensuring for example that the correct amount of water is absorbed by the flour and that specific requirements for consistency are met.”

Cobb says Laucke is able to tailor the flour to end user requirements in niche markets, which includes the supply of specialty flours such as certified organic, and differentiates the company from big multinationals.

“At the planning stage we work closely with True Foods product development team and are also able to provide ideas and feedback on marketing and sales strategies for specific products.

“The relationship between Laucke and True Foods is multi-tiered and there is an understanding about how each other’s factories operate. Information is shared openly including between CEO’s, production schedulers and planners, and often across both organisations by people of equal job function.”

Bread production in Australia: rising to new challenges

According to industry analysts, IBISWorld, Australia’s bread industry is not only going through a number of changes – its also facing challenges that is forcing it to both rationalise and innovate, writes Branko Miletic.

The recently released (July 2015) IBISWorld Industry Report has found that bread manufacturers are facing numerous challenges. This has particularly been the case over the past five years. 
Growing competition from supermarkets’ instore bakeries and the consumer shift away from factory-baked bread towards specialty and artisan retailers have caused the industry’s share of the overall bread market to fall. 

Additionally, volatility in prices over the past five years has dampened industry growth prospects and squeezed profit margins. 
Evolving nutritional concerns, especially those relating to carbohydrate consumption and the related increases in gluten intolerance, have all combined to work against the industry. 

However, the report also found that the industry’s prospects, modest as they may be, present a number of niche growth opportunities. The functional and fortified bread segment for example is expected to drive demand, as are new low-carb and other healthier bread offerings that appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers. 
 

The best thing since sliced bread
Increasing demand for specialty high-value breads will drive growth in niche and artisan bread products over the next five years. Bake-at-home products, par-baked and flash-baked premium bread products targeted at the food – service sector will also drive growth. 
However, industry growth will be restrained by competition from instore supermarket bakeries, as Coles and Woolworths continue their aggressive push into the fresh food segment.  As a result of these conflicting variables, IBISWorld expects industry revenue to grow by an annualised 1.8 per cent over the next five years, to total $2.8 billion in 2020-21.
 

It's all about the dough
According to the IBISWorld report, in 2015-16, industry revenue is expected to grow by 1.7 per cent, mainly driven by the increasing number of premium products offered, and new pricing models.
In 2015-16, industry revenue is forecast to reach $USD2.6 billion. Although growth is weak, it is still an improvement relative to the industry’s performance in 2010-11 and 2011-12. 
 

It's breadsticks at 10 paces
Over the past five years, the bread industry has faced intense competitive pressures that have pushed down both prices and volumes for numerous participants.
To combat downward margin pressures, many operators have attempted to improve production efficiency by increasing automation, however, the report noted there has also been a growing focus among operators on higher margin products, including artisanal breads. Revenue from Goodman Fielder’s artisan bread business for example increased by 75.0 per cent in 2013-14. 

Another significant threat comes from supermarkets aggressively increasing their share of private-label bread by baking their products instore, to compete directly with franchise bakeries and branded bread products. Sales of private- label bread have increased over the past decade, and now account for more than 30 per cent of retail supermarket bread sales. 

Bread pricing wars have driven this development, with the two supermarket giants attempting to attract customers and gain market share in the bakery products segment by selling $0.85 loaves. Coles and Woolworths together control over 70 per cent of the grocery market, with private-label products accounting for nearly one in three products on supermarket shelves. At the same time, it is interesting to note that George Weston has supplied home-brand bread to Woolworths for the past decade, while Goodman Fielder supplies rival Coles.
 

Taking the (white) bread out of our mouths
Australians have also become more sophisticated in their bread consumption said IBISWorld, opting for a greater variety of international and artisan breads. This includes seeded, wholemeal, organic and gluten-free loaves, along with sourdough, rye breads and focaccias. 

The increase in the number of artisan bakeries, particularly in capital cities, is further testament to this trend. Some industrial bread manufacturers are seeking to exploit these changing consumer tastes, widening their product ranges to incorporate more premium products as they gradually move away from the traditional white loaf said the report.
The industry’s performance will also be influenced by the rise of external competitors. Instore supermarket bakeries and artisan bakeries, which are not included in the industry, are a considerable threat. 

Coles and Woolworths together operate over 1200 instore bakeries, and this number is forecast to rise over the five years through 2020-21 as they continue their aggressive push into the fresh food market. In response, industry players will need to focus on catering to the increasingly sophisticated tastes of the foodservice sector, to counter volume and pricing pressures. 
Added to this figure is the higher consumer expenditure on restaurant and cafe food, which in the medium term is expected to translate into stronger demand for artisan breads, including a range of sourdough, ciabatta and flatbread varieties.
 

Gives us this day, our daily bread
The rise of health consciousness is known to be the primary driver of innovation for the industry, which is in the decline phase of its lifecycle. Growth in demand for healthier and more convenient substitute foods, such as snacks, biscuits, cereals and fruit, will partly lower the demand for bread. 
This will be particularly true for factory-produced white bread. However, the continued introduction of new premium and ‘better-for-you’ products such as fortified breads, gluten-free loaves, high protein bread and fruit or nut breads will help offset this trend, as bread manufacturers market towards health-conscious consumers.

In the five years through 2020-21, industry revenue is expected to increase by an annualised 1.8 per cent to total $USD2.8 billion. This includes growth of 1.3 per cent in 2016-17. Despite revenue growth, enterprise, establishment and employment numbers are expected to continue declining as the industry continues to consolidate. 
On a brighter note, a shift towards higher value artisan breads and other premium bread products will help boost profit margins, partially offsetting the effects of intense competition.  According to most industry pundits, international trade will remain negligible.
 

Kneading to know the future
Over the next five years, the IBISWorld report predicts growth in high-margin premium breads is likely to drive revenue growth. However, this positive trend will be largely offset by the growth of private-label supermarket products that are baked instore. 
Branded industrial producers of bread, such as Goodman Fielder, are expected to respond to changing consumption trends by altering their product mixes to reflect demand for gourmet and artisan breads. 
Despite this shift, white bread still accounts for 43 per cent of total bread sales and will remain the dominant product segment until there is significant narrowing of the price difference between artisan and industrially baked bread.

Production levels will be dictated by downstream demand. Industry players are expected to face a tightly contested domestic market as retail and supermarket bakeries gain market share, particularly in specialty product segments. This means that growth in the volume of bread produced will depend on the major participants’ success in developing high-value products. 

The wider introduction of higher margin branded products, and their increasing importance in the industry’s product range, will play a role in raising prices. An opportunity for some players exists in expanding food-service sector offerings, to meet the growing demand for pre-baked artisan breads with quick preparation times.

Laucke launches single origin flour from Kangaroo Island

For many years, Laucke Flour Mills Managing Director Mark Laucke has been crafting products derived from grains of known and traceable sources in the same way the wine industry produces wine from selected varieties and regions. 

“Unique food and wine is pivotal to Australia’s prosperity and central to its identity,” Mr Laucke said.

“Just like their wine industry counterparts — the best grain growers take pride in their high quality produce derived from clean air, water, soils and pristine seed stocks,” he said.

“In a world where food safety concerns are growing, South Australia is pioneering ‘paddock to plate’ traceability and leading food safety certification, ensuring absolute confidence and peace of mind for domestic and international consumers,” Mr Laucke said.

That opportunity has been realised this month with the launch of Laucke Flour Mills’ Single Origin Kangaroo Flours – ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’— both milled from grain traceable to its Kangaroo Island origins.

“We are enormously proud to be partnering with the farmers of Kangaroo Island, who have grasped the opportunity and developed the sophistication to produce and supply us with grain that is identifiable, certified, tracked and documented,” Mr Laucke said.

“The iconic, pristine, and natural environment of Kangaroo Island is separated from the Australian mainland by 22 km and therefore offers a provenance unique to the world.

“The region’s soil and natural environment produces a range of unique flavoured local foods and beverages —such as wines, cheese, olives, and honey —and grains are no exception.

“Nowhere else in the world replicates the grains as grown from the purity of the water, air and soil of Kangaroo Island.” 

“We can track the provenance of the grain from the actual paddock—where that vintage of their grain was grown – all the way through to careful segregation and milling, where the unique characteristics of the wheat are retained within the flour,” Mr Laucke said.

Laucke Flour Mills Single Origin Kangaroo Flour –  ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’ are both available in Woolworths, and selected independent grocery stores in the coming weeks.