Innova Market Insights reports that the supplements category continues to dominate the cognitive health space, based on greater than 230% growth in new supplements carrying this claim during 2011 through 2015. Cognitive health new product development (NPD) targets all of life’s different stages and in 2015, the share of launches with a brain health claim rose to 17% in Europe and 23% globally.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – also known as omega-3 fatty acids – play a crucial role in human brain function, as well as normal growth and development, with research showing that they can also reduce inflammation in addition to helping lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. The Center stated that: “Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioural function”.

When comparing 2011 and 2015 statistics, the fastest growing ingredients are omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, so it comes as no surprise that manufacturers have started to find more inventive ways of implementing omega-3 into the everyday diet. We spoke to French food manufacturer Agromousqetaires to find out more about their new product launch of omega-3 bread.

Product development: deriving fatty acids from food

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been widely documented over recent years with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health stating that they are an essential contribution to the human body. Although the human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or raw materials, when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids that isn’t the case with the school claiming that we can derive what we need from foods such as fish, vegetable oils, nuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.

The Association of UK Dieticians recommends that omega-3 fatty acids are derived from food however if this is not possible, supplements could play a role. “It is best to try and get omega-3 from foods but the following advice may be helpful if you find this difficult and wish to take a supplement look for omega-3 oil rather than fish liver oil” the association states.

In the nutraceutical sector one of the fastest growing product areas is cognitive health and as consumers become more aware of these health benefits, product launches have had to become more innovative. French private-label manufacturer Agromousqetaires have used omega-3 in flaxseed form to create ‘Flaxseed Pavé Bleu-Blanc-Coeur’ bread. Caroline Durand, managing director at Agromousquetaires said: “From the very beginning, the idea to supplement bread with Omega 3 is rooted in our deep strategy to encourage our consumers to eat better. To develop this product we have been working closely with the Bleu-Blanc-Cœur (BBC) Association who is committed to improving the nutritional content of omega-3 in our food diet. The nutritional initiative drive by the Bleu-Blanc-Coeur Association has been recognized for the very first time in 2008 by the Ministry of Health.”

Consumer education: a health dedicated agriculture approach

In order to inform the consumer about the benefits of the bread, the Bleu-Blanc-Coeur logo is printed on the packaging, with research showing that 87% of the French population are reassured by the presence of this logo, associating it with credibility and nutrition. The BBC production method aims to encourage a health dedicated agriculture approach in order to promote diversity and balance within fields, feed containers, on plates and within every cell in the human body echoed by their tagline – ‘omega-3 naturally’.

“What makes our product unique is the fact that it contains not only flax seeds but also flax flour. The nutritional benefits of flax flour have been proven by scientific and clinical studies (the omega-3 in a flax seed is 80% digestible versus 30% in a crushed flux seed). There is both a market and a need for this type of product, particularly for clients who are trying to maintain a more balanced diet and to lead a healthier lifestyle” Durand explains.

The methodology: going behind the process

To make the Bleu-Blanc-Coeur Flax seed bread, the same process is used for artisanal bread. Created in the The Moulin de la Chaume factory in France where it markets 5 types of products: pre-cooked white bread, raw white bread, special pre-cooked bread, raw special bread, and traditional bread under the Campanière brand.

Firstly the ingredients – flours, water, yeast, salt and flax seeds – are weighed and mixed. It is then kneaded and fermented before the dough is rolled out and shaped into the various products. Finally, it is proved, scored, cooked and then cooled before being frozen and packaged.

“The product is unique in that it is made using flax flour in addition to traditional flour. This flour comes from flax seeds which are selected according to a range of criteria such as being flax from France, having a guaranteed minimum omega-3 content, strict specifications for the production methods and traceability from seed to finished product” Durand says.

“Thanks to a patented thermos-extrusion process with the flax seed, the supplier guarantees; to detox and destroy the anti-nutrients in the seed, to release fat: 80% bioavailability and to preserve nutrients, omega 3 and fibres” she continues.

Speaking about new product launches that utilise omega-3 Durand said: “The use of omega-3 in bread recipes is growing. This is partly due to the fact that consumers are now more aware of the health benefits of omega-3, they also recognise the health benefits thanks to the Bleu-Blanc-Cœur logo.”