When the Merseyside-based company took shape earlier this year through a merger between Arkady Craigmillar, Readi-Bake and Caravan Brill, the firm identified added-value concepts, such as low-fat and dough conditioners, as key areas for growth in the mature bakery market.
"About 12 per cent of products we sell are new," Kerrie Hampson, head of marketing at Bakemark UK, told FoodNavigator.com at the time, adding that a decent slice of the 600-strong workforce was involved in R&D, an absolute necessity for gaining market share.
Low-fat bakery products, as well as fortification with fibre and vitamins, are both areas seeing growth as the bakery sector tries to cash in on the burgeoning trend for health-promoting foods. BakeMark's new low-carb premix launch shows that the fad Atkins diet - which promotes a low-carbohydrate diet - has also opened up new market opportunities, and at a premium price, higher returns.
A quarter of the Europe- or US-based food and drink companies recently interviewed by Reuters Business Insight said they were actively investing in the research and development of new low-carb products. The US market, worth around $15 billion this year, is forecast to double by 2005.
"When made using the recommendedrecipe, Arkady reduced carb premix provides around 30 per cent less availablecarbohydrate than typical white bread, more fibre than a wholemeal loaf,high levels of protein and reduced sodium content," said the UK firm in a statement this week.
The product can be used for a range of low-carb food products, including white and brown loaves, rolls and sandwiches.
"Although traditional bakery products will remain the core market for us and our customers, the popularity of low-carb is something the industry cannot ignore," said Hampson this week.
As the Atkins diet starts to get a grip on the UK consumer, three British industry bodies recently joined forces to promote bread. The Flour Advisory Bureau, the Federation of Bakers and the Grain Information Service have given their backing to the Vitality Eating System, a diet which they claim is healthier than Atkins and other low-carb regimes in that it advocates a balanced diet.
Low-carb diets such as Atkins have pointed the finger at products such as bread which are high in carbohydrates, and while this may have begun to sow the seeds of doubt in consumers' minds - despite being based on 'pseudo-science', according to the Federation of Bakers - it also appears to have had little or no impact on actual sales, at least so far.
Research by the Federation found that while the traditional retail sliced and wrapped bread market had declined by around 1.5 per cent in volume over the last three years, this was caused mainly by changing eating habits, with consumers eating more pre-packed food, including ready-to-eat sandwiches, and a move towards more speciality breads.
Furthermore, the bread market has grown in value terms, with sales rising by approximately 13 per cent or £130 million in the same three year period, as consumers traded up to more premium breads.