Companies are generally big spenders when it comes to R&D and innovation. However, spending on this item in Spain declined by 2.8% year-on- year (INE data, 2011), to 14.184 billion euros. Industry accounted for 49% of total R&D and innovation spending. Moreover, the percentage of innovative food companies is systematically higher than the total for all economic sectors (28.23%).
Bread fortified with iodized salt, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and other ingredients are just some of products that ASEMAC companies have focused on through notable R&D and innovation spending. The bread and baked goods sector is working overtime to produce cutting-edge products that are more line with the changing preferences of increasingly demanding consumers. R&D applied to bread, baked goods and confectionery allows for the creation of fresh top-flight products with artisan touches.
R&D and innovation applied to technology allows for old formulae (high-hydration dough, use of mother dough as well as baking stones, and prolonged fermentation) to be combined with new ones. This investment has allowed for the creation of new rustic varieties with a more defined crust and more pronounced air cells. Moreover, these new types of breads have more intense colors and flavors.
ASEMAC companies have also developed other products based on mixtures with flours such as spelt with others known as pseudocereals, like quinoa, khorasan wheat and amaranth, with a view to recovering long-lost flavors.
ASEMAC companies are looking not only to improve their products, but also to meet the needs of different types of consumers. New organic and also gluten-free breads for people with celiac disease adapt to customer requirements while maintaining all of the bread's traditional flavors.
ASEMAC has committed to offering healthier products under the framework of the Spanish Strategy for Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Obesity (NAOS), promoted by the Ministry of Health. The Association has also implemented a plan to reduce salt in bread. In recent years, the salt content has declined gradually, from 22 grams per kilo of flour to 19 grams.
But ASEMAC companies' research has gone beyond bread to include baked goods, which have also been a central focus. The main challenge has been to adapt their products to make them healthier. To this end, ASEMAC's Technical Committee studied the nutritional profiles of baked goods to drastically reduce trans fat to less than 1%.
ASEMAC has also spearheaded innovation in packaging to ensure that foods are safer and more nutritious. One of the methods used is modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), which changes the composition of a package's internal atmosphere, removing oxygen and replacing it with nitrogen or CO2.
All of this progress, the result of investment in R&D and innovation, has allowed ASEMAC companies to adapt to new market demands and to offer products that are more in line with consumer preferences.