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Healthful Baking Trends: Simple sells

If 2009 was about inexpensive, 2010 is about simple. If consumers can’t pronounce the ingredient, they don’t want it. Instead, they are looking for simple packaging and simple formulations; fewer ingredients, cleaner labels and slimmer packaging.

* 48% of products in the U.S. showed a decline in the average number of ingredients in the first three quarters of 2009. ( Mintel)

* Haagen-Dasz introduced its Five line of ice cream with only five ingredients–milk, cream, sugar, eggs and one natural flavor, like mint.

* Starbucks changed its banana bread from 15 ingredients to 10.

According to Lynn Dornblaser of Mintel, a consumer research firm based in Chicago, products with simplified labels will be more sought after in 2010 than those that contain the former buzzwords “organic” or “natural.” From 2005 to 2008, there was an almost 65% increase in products using the words “simple” or “simplify” in the product or brand name. (Datamonitor)

Even mega-producer Kraft is getting in on the act; Triscuits always been about 'less is more,' but switched to soybean oil and redesigned packaging; results: double digit growth in second quarter of 2009.

* Back to Nature line debuted Triple Ginger cookie in Jan. with five ingredients.

Two parallel trends feed into the movement towards simplicity in food. Retro-style and comfort foods are booming in consumer preference studies, partially due to an economy-driven, sentimental longing for a sense of 'good old days,' when things were simple and ingredients were real. The locavore trend also presents a push toward locally grown, locally sourced ingredients, which tend to offer a sense of wholesomeness and simplicity.

The consumers have spoken. Keep it simple, stupid!