Gluten-free, whole grain sales open door for ingredients

by Jeff Gelski
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Gluten-free and whole grain products show no signs of leaving retail shelves, which is providing wider entry for ancient grains and other ingredients into the grain-based foods industry.

The global gluten-free product market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.2% to reach $6,206.2 million by 2018, according to a report issued this year by MarketsandMarkets, Dallas. The Whole Grain Stamp, meanwhile, as of April of this year was on more than 8,400 different products in 41 countries, according to the Whole Grains Council, Boston. The whole grain movement received another boost in May when McDonald’s Corp. said it was introducing three new Quarter Pounder with Cheese burgers, all featuring a bun with 8 grams of whole grains.

Some ancient grains, including millet, teff and amaranth, may work in both gluten-free and whole grain applications. Although not technically a cereal grain, quinoa is known as an ancient grain and is also gluten-free.

Grain-based and other companies have noticed ancient grains. The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., features quinoa in its Special K Nourish line of hot cereals and bars (see related story on Page 14.) Flatbread grilled chicken sandwiches from The Wendy’s Co., Dublin, Ohio, have millet in the buns.

Supply of ancient grains is growing. This year Omaha-based ConAgra Mills added buckwheat and spelt to its ancient grain portfolio, which already included quinoa, teff, millet, sorghum and amaranth. Bay State Milling, Quincy, Mass., offers OrganicEssentials whole spelt and OrganicEssentials white spelt flour along with ancient grains obtained last year through the acquisition of T.J. Harkins Basic Commodity Brokers, Inc.

U.S. acreage also may increase for chia, a seed often recognized as an ancient grain. John Carroll, chief executive officer of Hain Celestial U.S., spoke about chia in a May 14 earnings conference call.

“The chia as a commodity is on fire, but we are actually developing a domestic source of chia,” he said. “We believe we’ll be one of the first to do that. So that will increase our chia supply.”

Although not whole grains, beans and peas are other gluten-free ingredients on the supply upswing. Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., offers a VegeFull line of bean ingredients.

U.S. consumer interest in hummus has sparked demand for chickpeas. Sabra Dipping Co., a joint venture of PepsiCo, Inc. and Strauss Group Ltd. of Israel, is seeking to grow chickpeas commercially in Virginia, according to an April 30 article in The Wall Street Journal.

Bean flour and pea flour are free of gluten and may add protein and fiber to grain-based foods applications. The Canadian International Grains Institute, Winnipeg, Man., showcased the use of Canadian pulse flours in baked goods at the 2013 Bakery Congress in Vancouver, B.C., May 5-6. Samples of wheat bread made with 15% whole yellow pea flour were available.

Food processors from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States attended a course on using dry beans in snack foods May 13-17 at the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, N.D. The U.S. Dry Bean Council co-sponsored the course.

“During the course, the participants tried more than 50 combinations of extruded beans made in-house,” said Thunyaporn Jeradechachai, crop quality specialist for the Northern Crops Institute. “This will help the participants make informed decisions about new products for their companies. Instead of making starchy-based snacks that do not have much nutritional value, we are introducing them to high quality nutritious bean snacks.”

New snacks already are on the market. Flamous Brands, Inc., Duarte, Calif., features corn along with chickpeas, fava beans and black beans in its falafel chips, which have 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per 28-gram serving.

Consumers look for fiber, whole grains, protein

WASHINGTON — The “2013 Food & Health Survey” released May 23 by the International Food Information Council Foundation may reinforce the efforts of grain-based foods manufacturers to increase the amount of fiber, whole grains and protein in their products.

When asked what they were trying to consume or avoid, 62% said they were trying to get a certain amount or as much as possible of both fiber and whole grains. Protein was third at 57%.

Such positive messages may have more impact, too. According to the survey, 26% agreed strongly and 52% agreed somewhat that they would rather hear about what they should eat as opposed to what they should not eat.

The on-line survey took place April 11-22 and involved 1,006 Americans from the ages of 18 to 80. More on the survey may be found at www.foodinsight.org.

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