Trends arrive later in Puerto Rico but move faster

by Laurie Gorton
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Food trends in Puerto Rico tend to lag those on the mainland but are quicker to spread once established, according to Mario Somoza, president and CEO of Pan Pepín, Bayamón, PR. The power of white whole wheat proves his point. “It eases the transition into whole wheat and whole grains,” he observed. “The market here for those styles is not so well-developed as in the US, but it started to take off 10 years ago.”

Pan Pepín’s flour supplier, ConAgra Milling, led the transition when it introduced Ultragrain white whole wheat flour. As Mr. Somoza noted, “The miller said it best, ‘You don’t take people from whole milk to skim all at once.’ The logic is white wheat is the same in taste and texture as regular white. You have to go in stages, and white-wheat whole wheat works in our favor.”

The bakery produces four products with Ultragrain flour: club (sandwich) and open-top loaves, hamburger and hot dog buns, the leading item being sandwich bread. “Whole white wheat provides huge growth for us,” Mr. Somoza observed.

The whole grains category is also trending up. “In year-over-year results, we see aggressive growth — double digit, in fact — in whole grains,” he said. “Consumer attitudes are getting there. All our whole grain products are taking off, driven by consumer awareness.”

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