Pakistan adds more life to affordable flatbreads
By Zaighum Zaman, sales manager, DuPont Nutrition & Health, Pakistan and GCC
More than two-thirds of Pakistan’s flatbread is made by consumers in their own home – in most cases in a small village somewhere in the country. Only just over a third of Pakistanis live in the cities, where artisanal corner shops and supermarkets sell industrially produced flatbreads as a convenient alternative to homemade.
Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that the country’s small to medium-sized industrial manufacturers can look forward to higher sales in the years ahead. After all, the city-dwellers who are most likely to buy them still number around 70 million people.
Flatbreads remain the dominant bread product in Pakistan mainly because of their affordability. Traditionally, they are made in the morning for consumption during the day. Within a few hours, though, much of their freshness will be lost.
So, even a solution that can extend fresh-keeping quality for up to eight hours could be a window of opportunity for manufacturers – as long as the flatbreads are affordably priced.
Moving target for shelf life
Until now, most of the industrial bakers have aimed for a shelf life of up to one week. But that target is gradually moving. The reasons are long transport times from the bakeries to the stores and a high volume of returned products that are past their sell-by date. Keen to reduce expensive waste, bakers are now looking towards a shelf life of 14 days to a month and beyond.
That’s just for the domestic market. A few companies have also set their sights on producing frozen and ambient naan bread for export. For destinations such as North America, fresh-keeping shelf life must then be around 60 days.
Local supplies of high quality wheat are a good starting point for the Pakistani bakery industry. The way forward is opportunities to keep flatbreads soft and fresh without putting up their price.