A new project, involving a number of UK research centres, is to work towards the development of high-fibre white bread.

The wheat varieties, which will be used in the programme, have been specifically developed by staff at Rothamsted Research for the UK and Irish climate.

Leading the interdisciplinary project team are staff from the University of Reading.

They will be looking at the supply chain for high-fibre wheat production and the impact on the health of consumers.

Consumer acceptability will also be explored including taste testing of high-fibre white bread in a major supermarket within three years.

Potential for high-fibre white bread

Rothamsted, together with the John Innes Centre, had previously identified wheat lines with up to double the normal content of fibre in white flour, and are developing novel high-fibre types of wheat in collaboration with commercial wheat breeders.

When the high-fibre wheat lines were first announced in 2020, it was hoped they could be in the shops within five years. Despite Covid-19 related delays, there is an expectation that this objective could still be achieved.

Prof. Peter Shewry, who oversaw development of the high-fibre wheat said:

”This is an important step in our long-term aim of improving the health of consumers by developing high quality staple foods at affordable prices."

The white flour also has the potential to be used in other baked goods such as croissants, naan breads and pizzas, which will also be investigated as part of the project.

Although fibre-enhanced 'white' breads are currently available, most are actually made from wholemeal flours of wheat varieties which cannot be grown in the UK or Ireland due to the climate.

The project will use newly developed types of wheat with high fibre in white flour, which can be grown in the UK, to develop new products to increase UK fibre consumption.

Market collaboration

The project has been developed in collaboration with a major supermarket chain, their associated millers and bakers and a range of industry partners involved in wheat production.

The work will identify what changes to the wheat / farm-to-plate supply chain is needed to deliver high-fibre white loaf bread to consumers.

Dr. Marcus Tindall, associate professor of mathematical biology at the University of Reading and lead on the new project said:

"The members of our team are excited to be working closely with industry to develop the optimal high-fibre white loaf, whilst utilising predictive mathematical modelling to inform the transformations needed within the wheat chain to deliver high-fibre white bread to consumers."