The R&D Tax Credit Aspects of Commercial Baking
Recent changes in
regulations and consumer preferences have made a large impact
on the food industry, including bakery products and production
process. As the demand increases for healthier, natural, less
processed foods, challenges emerge for bakeries to change
their formulations and processes to create products that are
both natural and healthy and still maintain the taste and
texture of customer’s favorite baked goods.
The R&D Tax Credit
Enacted in 1981, the Federal Research and Development
(R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13% of eligible
spending for new and improved products and processes.
Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:
- New or improved products,
processes, or software
- Technological in nature
- Elimination of uncertainty
- Process of experimentation
Eligible costs include
employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract
research expenses, and costs associated with developing a
patent. On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the
bill making the R&D Tax Credit permanent.
Beginning in 2016, the R&D credit can be used to offset
Alternative Minimum tax and startup businesses can utilize the
credit against payroll taxes.
In March 2015, the World Health
Organization issued new guidelines that recommend a reduction
of roughly 25g of free sugars per day. This proposal adds
increased scrutiny of added sugars to all baked goods, which
in turn will give bakers more of a reason for reducing sugar
in recipes. In most baked goods, sugar provides everything
from bulk and structure to browning and moisture management,
in addition to desirable sweetness , thus presenting a complex
challenge to commercial bakeries.
However, this trend
towards more natural and less altered food products has driven
researchers to look into new, calorie-free alternatives. With
almost one hundred natural calorie-free sweeteners on the
market, commercial bakeries are beginning to take advantage of
these substitutions in their products.
The following are
just some of the emerging sugar alternatives:
Sweet Potato Juice Concentrate
Whether it is in the form of dehydrated
granules or flour, the use of sweet potatoes can serve
multiple functions in a formulation while offering a naturally
sweet flavor profile.
Sweet potatoes are also loaded with beta carotene and other
essential nutrients, making them an extremely healthy
Chicory Root Fiber Powder
When compared to sugar, chicory root fiber
is 55% as sweet and can also work with other sweeteners to
mask flavors. It has half the calories per gram and provides
scientifically proven health benefits including blood sugar
management, weight reduction, and improved digestive health.
Soluble Corn Fiber
Soluble corn fiber can not only deliver many of sugar’s
critical baking functionalities, but it has also been shown to
improve product quality while cutting calories and boosting
fiber. Different versions with different caloric contents can
be used depending on product and formula needs.
One of the most recent sweeteners to enter the marketplace is
allulose, a monosaccharide that contains almost zero calories.
Described as a rare sugar, allulose is only found in nature in
small quantities. Despite this, newly commercialized enzymatic
approaches now allow for commercial viability of this
sweetener alternative ingredient.
Trans Fat Elimination
Trans fats are created when liquid oils are
put through a process called “hydrogenation”. By adding
hydrogen atoms, the oils are converted into solid fats with an
extended shelf life, and are readily used in commercial baked
goods and stick margarines. Although trans fats were once
believed by experts to be healthier than saturated fats such
as butter or lard, researchers now believe that these man-made
fats are linked to many serious health problems. Since 1911,
when vegetable shortening, Crisco, entered the market, trans
fats have become major contributors to heart disease in the
United States. In addition to cardiac implications, trans fats
have been linked to other health conditions, including
obesity, diabetes, and memory loss .
There are several
alternatives to using trans fat in baked goods. One option is
to reexamine the usefulness of saturated vegetable fats, such
as palm, palm kernel, and coconut oils. These tropical oils
are creamy in consistency which can mimic the chemistry found
in saturated fats from animal sources. The result is a
healthier product, without the sacrifice of taste and texture
that consumers expect. However, although some studies show
that fat in palm oil may actually help lower blood
cholesterol, many dietitians are wary. While any product that
reduces trans fat is beneficial, using saturated fats isn’t
necessarily a healthy alternative.
Another option is to
blend currently acceptable oil products into formulations that
yield the benefits of partially hydrogenated oils, such as
shelf life, texture and taste while minimizing exposure to
risks. Some companies have already begun to take advantage of
this alternative. Crisco, the long-time manufacturer of fats
used in baked goods and frying, now offers a trans fat-free
shortening made from a combination of sunflower, soy, and
cottonseed oil. Fast food chains have also implemented similar
blends. In regards to baked goods, combinations of healthy
liquid fats like grape seed oil, walnut oil, or vegetable oil
spreads can be mixed with fruit puree for bulk and texture .
Gluten has a very important goal in the
role of baked goods. It is a protein that, when combined with
water, provides the basic structure of breads, cakes, cookies
and other baked goods. It also acts as an elastic agent,
giving dough a stretchy consistency. In addition, gluten is
partly responsible for the rising and fluffing of dough. It is
present in all forms of wheat and newly emerging conditions
such as Celiac disease poses a challenge for many commercial
baked goods requires careful production techniques through the
manufacturing process. The goal is to create gluten-free
products which are indistinguishable in taste and appearance
from their gluten-packed alternatives. Although flour
may be one of the most difficult items to replace, there are
many types of gluten-free flours that can be combined to
create viable alternatives such as brown rice flour, potato
flour, garbanzo bean flour, soy flour.
There are other
important ingredients aside from flours such as quinoa, eggs,
cornstarch, cornmeal, and Xanthan gum that can help create an
authentic taste, texture, or structure without the presence of
gluten. The best baked goods often require extensive
experimentation and iterations until a viable mixture and
process is decided on.
Invented in France in 1903, an enrober is
used in the confectionery industry to coat food items such as
nuts, biscuits, and cookies with a coating medium, typically
chocolate. As the demand for chocolate-coated sweets grows, it
has become increasingly impractical to employ enough staff to
dip confections into melted chocolate in order to keep up with
required production capacity. As a result, several companies
are finding ways to create innovations in the chocolate
production chain, from the farms where beans are grown to the
sales floor where it is sold.
Not only does it enhance
the decadence of a confection, the enrobing process also aids
in increasing the shelf life of a product by reducing moisture
loss and maintaining product shape. Additionally, enrobing can
often allow for greater production rates with lower capital
costs when compared to moulding, which is used for chocolate
When compared to
traditional tempering machines and enrobers, commercial
bakeries can save up to two-thirds consumption by utilizing a
combination of the Aasted Energy Enrobing Concept and the
SuperNova Energy tempering machine. This optimal enrobing
circuit not only provides homogenous processing and a
stabilized temperature and tempering index, but also reduces
Automation in the
The baking industry is faced with a growing
variety of products and increasing pressure to control costs,
making seamless interaction of production processes crucial.
Integrated automation systems provide solutions from the
receipt of raw ingredients to finished product shipment.
Hostess Brands re-launched in 2013 under an Apollo Global
Management LLC private-equity firm joint venture with Dean
Metropoulos & Co. They recently made a $150 million
investment in improvements and efficiencies at the firm’s
bakery plants. According to Forbes, the investment helped
bring the classic American snack food into the 21st century.
Hostess’ 500-worker Kansas bakery, equipped with a $20 million
auto-bake system, now produces more than one million Twinkies
per day, performing 80% of the work once done by 9,000 workers
across 14 plants.
At the heart of any bakery is its oven.
When confronting the challenges of recipe and formula
adjustments, it is important to choose an oven best suited for
the products and quantities being produced.
Convection ovens are one
of the most common pieces of commercial bakery equipment, as
they can bake a variety of goods both quickly and evenly. They
use internal fans to circulate the air which creates even
browning and repeatable results that cannot be matched by a
standard radiant oven. It is also the least expensive.
Deck ovens are often
used by bakeries that specialize in artesian-style goods.
Their stone cooking decks heat up, giving the crust a
distinctive, crispy character while maintaining a soft and
moist inside. By design, these ovens are simple and have only
a few moving parts, making them long lasting and easy to use.
A roll-in rack oven
allows the user to wheel a pan rack full of goods right into
the oven for baking. Some models will rotate the pan rack
during the baking process for even results. The advantage of
this style is time and labor savings due to less product
Revolving ovens have
large revolving trays that can be loaded with a product,
similar in concept to a rotisserie style oven at a deli or
market. These have a very high capacity and output capability,
but are also quite expensive so it is crucial that output
needs and budget can justify the purchase of one of these
Increasing Shelf Life
The aroma and texture of baked goods fresh
out of the oven are strongly appealing, but unfortunately,
these qualities are quickly lost. Extending the
longevity of bakery product shelf life relies on product
developers, process technologists, and packaging
technologists. Since the flavor and appeal depend heavily on
freshness, commercial producers have to compensate by using
Baked goods have a short
shelf life in terms of spoilage by bacteria, yeasts, and molds
due to the high water activity of products such as bread.
Preservatives such as propionic acid and sorbic acid and their
salts are commonly used in order to extend the mold-free shelf
life of bakery product. Natural mold inhibitors are also being
used, for example, those made by fermenting wheat and whey
products to produce organic acids such as acetic, propionic,
or lactic acids.
The juice of a number of
berries has been studied with respect to antibacterial
activity against a range of bacteria and yeasts. Results
suggest that the antibacterial activity of raspberry and
blackcurrant cordials may be a benefit as a means to enhance
shelf life when incorporated into food products.
Similarly, dried plums
contain about 2% of naturally occurring malic acid, which has
been shown to help to inhibit microbial spoilage and can also
serve as the natural acid component of chemical leavening
Baked products, whether designed to have a
shelf life of two weeks or six months, owe these achievable
goals largely in part to packaging innovations. High-quality
barrier films are available at whatever the cost a company’s
margin is willing to bear. Some of the latest technology
includes adding gases to control the atmosphere within the
package, known as modified-atmosphere packaging.
One of the main causes
of the spoilage is the growth of microbes such as bacteria,
yeasts, and mold that are present all around us. These
microbes feed and grow on food products, causing them to go
bad. There are a number of ways to slow down these processes
and keep food both attractive and edible for as long as
possible. Refrigeration is the simplest and most commonly used
method, as microbes grow slower at lower temperatures.
However, it is a
challenge to keep food fresh for as long as possible without
additives, and one key technology for achieving this goal is
to seal the food product in a package which contains a mixture
of carefully controlled natural gases that significantly slow
down the process of decay by inhibiting processes of oxidation
and the growth of microbes. The type and proportion of
gas used in the packaging is largely dictated by the type of
food in the package, and with the help of cutting edge
technologies, can be ensured that the gas mixture is correct,
and that the sealed package does not leak. This is the essence
of modified atmosphere packaging.
While commercial bakeries today face many
challenges such as major changes in consumer preferences and
regulations that impact both the production process and the
product itself, new and efficient technologies coupled with
innovative thought and processes make it more possible than
ever to increase the production of baked goods while at the
same time cutting costs.