Mapping the Way to Better Bread

Mapping the Way to Better Bread

Gluten has been in the news frequently in the past few years, and people increasingly avoid it due to allergies and various dietary trends that seek to limit gluten intake. A new breakthrough has been made in cracking the wheat genome – a code over five times more complex than the human genome. Can the development help fulfill consumer desires for better-tasting, better-for-you wheat products, including gluten-free options?

Like Finding a Needle in a Wheat-Stack

The massive size of the wheat genome is arguably more impressive than the wide variety of products wheat is used to produce. For this reason, science has struggled for decades to map it in its entirety, successfully mapping the human genome well before that of wheat. The reason for the long delay is the complexity of the genetic mix that makes up modern wheat – two naturally crossed grasses combined with a third species introduced by human agriculture. This modern hybrid has 21 chromosomes, and just one of these chromosomes is larger than the full soybean genome.

With a map of the genome finally in hand, the traditional time-consuming trial-and-error method of developing new strains with desirable traits – such as disease-resistance – will be much shorter in the future. Scientists have already used the knowledge to select for genes controlling the density of wheat stems, making them either hollow or solid – the latter of which is drought-resistant. Going forward, wheat will be very simple to design for specific purposes, such as for lowering levels of gluten in bread and bakery products.

Baking Up Innovation

A secondary discovery made as a result of the genome breakthrough is the identification of genes that encode specific proteins, as well as the finding that heat levels affect the development of such proteins within wheat. As the world continues to warm, ailments such as celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and baker’s asthma are likely to rise as well. The ability to selectively alter genes presents a valuable opportunity for growers to produce specific strains of wheat with lower levels of certain proteins, effectively presenting the opportunity for the elimination of gluten-related and other wheat-based health problems.

This breakthrough is a boon for companies in the bread and bakery products industry. New product offerings in the market are sure to further increase sales as previously excluded consumers are brought back into the fold.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Bread & Bakery Products: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US bread and bakery product demand and shipments in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand and shipments are segmented by product in terms of:

  • bread
  • rolls
  • non-frozen cakes and pastries
  • frozen cakes and pastries

To illustrate historical trends, total demand, total shipments, the various segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.

Bread and rolls include both frozen and non-frozen products. Retailing for immediate consumption is excluded from this report. Re-exports of bread and bakery products are excluded from demand and trade figures.

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About the Author

Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.