Organic Baking Comes Of Age
Written by Irini Cavalliotis, Baking Business
Image: The Tin Pin Bakery, Bondi. Image by Sue Robbins Photography
One of the Asia-Pacific region’s fastest-growing industries, organic food, is soaring to new heights… and it’s promising to give bakers a piece of the $6 billion pie.
Australia’s appetite for organics is at an all-time high. Now, more so than ever before, consumers are confident organic farming principles can turn around environmental degradation and address climate change. What’s more, the idea food made with organic ingredients tastes better, is more nutritious, and is safer to eat, has become widely accepted.
The Australian Organic Market Report – commissioned by Organics Australia and based on research by the Mobium Group, Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian Bureau of Statistics – shows a 15 per cent yearly growth in certified products, with private label brands, processed foods and greater affordability forecast to drive the trajectory onwards and upwards. Within this, the organic packaged bakery food market grew by 38 per cent between 2008-2013, raking in $110.4 million in sales – more so than most other processed food group including baby food, confectionery, ice cream, oils, and ready meals.
In a nutshell, organics is no longer in the domain of “greenies” and the health conscious.
Organic grain farmer-turned-chair of the Organic Federation of Australia (OFA), Greg Paynter, says issues regarding food and chemicals will always feed public discussion, giving certified baked products a competitive edge.
“Bread is the staff of life and people want bread that isn’t potentially contaminated with chemical residue. Fertiliser programs, excessively high cadmium levels, the treatment of grain while in storage, all of these non-organic processes and effects concern a lot of consumers,” he says.
Better still, it smells, tastes and feels better.
“When farmed organically, through the use of compost and minerals to balance the soil, the genetic expression of the grain’s characteristics is better released. The grain has better mineral content as well, which improves enzymatic reactions in the bread-making process,” Greg says.
“A lot of the enzymes aren’t destroyed in the organic farming method. For example, an organic flour mill may use a stone mill rather than a steel mill, which has proven health benefits.”
It’s good news for bakers, with smart business owners cashing in on consumer demand for all things fresh, chemical-free and sustainable. In March, Bake Bar Organic Artisan Bakery opened its second Sydney premises, with head baker and co-owner Gili Gold saying customers are willing to cover the extra costs.
“We find people are, in general, quite health conscious and they want to be aware of the ingredients that go into the foods they eat,” Gili says.
“There is an increased awareness in the community now of the cost involved with producing food with organic ingredients. But they realise there are great health benefits of choosing organic products and are willing to pay a little more for that benefit.”
For Wholegrain Milling’s Tammey McAllen, the goods coming out of Bake Bar’s ovens are the result of a long line of professionals committed to the organics cause.
“Nothing about organic food happens in isolation,” she says.
“Right at the beginning of the process, we’ve got farmers who really know what they are doing supplying grain to very good millers working the stone mill and the roller mill, and then you have good bakers.
“At the end of the day, organic bread is popular not because it’s a trend, but because organic flour is great flour. Organic flour doesn’t actually require yeast, so when bakers are making their flour doughs, they only need the most basic raw ingredients – that’s artisan baking And, it’s much more easily digestible than commercial products, which have so many additives.
“Consumers want to know what is going into their body, and they can’t get that from supermarket bread. One of the key criteria in organic production is traceability, so if you want to know what you’re consuming, you have to choose organic.
“The popularity of businesses like Sonoma, Bourke Street Bakery, Organic Republic, Dench Bakers and Bills Organic Bread really shows the power of the organic movement and what can be achieved with good, honest ingredients.”