He said bread consumption and snacking was on the rise.
Among the recent trends noticed is a growing consumption of European-style bread in the region, albeit slightly adjusted to Asian tastes.
“The crust is a little thinner, with maybe a little bit more sugar in the formulas,” said Baule.
“We have well adapted products for that and our people here (in Asia Pacific) know how to do such breads, and they work with (customers’) bakers to refine the formulas.”
He said the croissant and other types of pastries have also seen success in the region.
For Asian food, Baule said there has been a move towards the use of less “lao mian” (old dough or sourdough) in the making of mantou buns in China, and using more yeast as a helper to process the product and make it rise better.
He said the yeast brings “reliability and regularity” to the making of the mantou.
For this application, Lesaffre recently launched a new strain of yeast for mantou that Baule said is suited to the product.
“We have been getting very good success with it since,” he said.
“We try to be local, very close to the market needs, and design our offering suiting the market needs.”
Beer is clearly also a growing market in Asia, he said.
“Typically, we launch six to seven new strains of yeast per year for beer because yeast strains are instrumental in beer taste. We launch them every year to diversify the potential of brewing in different countries,” he said.
Crop protection is “the next frontier” for the company, according to him.
“For example, we are working on a product to protect bananas in the Philippines from mould after the harvest,” he said.
APAC HQ to do more
Last year, Lesaffre set up a new regional hub and headquarters in Singapore. Within it, the new culinary and baking centres have been helping the company to better respond to the needs of customers in the region.
“We worked on the flavour side, the mouthfeel, the smell (when it comes) out of the steamer and things like that. We worked really in-depth in the development,” he said.
Baule said there is a big trend towards more natural and more environmentally-friendly food in the region and they have been working to address that.
Healthy vs delicious
Baule said a big challenge in the market, as evidenced in the food trends, is the fragmentation of the market with a lot of “feelings and desires” of customers, not all compatible with one another. For instance, some may want much healthier food, but at the same time want it to be more delicious.
He said this is a question of equilibrium or quantity.
“For example, in bread, to satisfy these two demands we introduce sourdough as a taste factor. It helps to bring taste with less salt in the recipe, and maybe even less sugar,” he said.
“We have also presented a croissant recipe with some sourdough, which enables it to reduce a little the fat and sugar, and still bring the mouthfeel and taste.”
On this note he said, this year, Lesaffre will be launching more frozen dough adapted products such as semi-frozen dry yeast or improvers for pre-proof frozen products. These would add to the convenience of bakeries, including in inventory management.
“With these, they can finish the preparation of bread in the store. They can just warm up the pre-proof product,” he said.