DOWNERS GROVE, ILL. — Sara Lee Corp. on Tuesday unveiled plans for a line of bread under the EarthGrains brand that will include Eco-Grain wheat in its ingredients.

Eco-Grain wheat, which will make up 20% of the whole grains in EarthGrains brand wide-pan bread, was developed by Horizon Milling, a joint venture between Cargill and CHS, Inc. The wheat is grown using farming practices that reduce fertilizer and require less land than organic farming.

According to Sara Lee, Eco-Grain wheat is grown using a technology called variable rate application, also known as “precision agriculture,” which uses a combination of satellite imagery and soil samples to identify the best use of fertilizer on the farmer’s field. The farmer then may use the data to apply nutrients to the crop only where it’s needed — a process that Sara Lee said requires less fertilizer, uses less energy and reduces emissions, all while increasing the amount of wheat grown on the land.

“Horizon Milling’s role is about linking the supply chain from the farmer to the bakery all the way to the end consumer,” said Dan Dye, president of Horizon Milling. “We partner with farmers to help them grow Eco-Grain wheat using innovative technology, we mill the wheat they grow into flour, and we deliver the finished ingredient to EarthGrains’ bakeries.

“Throughout the entire process, we preserve the wheat’s identity so the consumer can have a direct impact on how the wheat is grown. We’re proud to collaborate with the EarthGrains brand to help them deliver a wholesome, environmentally-conscious product to the marketplace.”

In addition to including Eco-Grain wheat in its 100% whole grain, 100% natural line of wide pan bread, Sara Lee said it will expand the wheat’s use to EarthGrains Thin Buns later this year.

EarthGrains bread made with Eco-Grain wheat contains 19 grams of whole grain in every slice and has a suggested retail price of $2.49 to $4.09.

Along with the new product introduction, Sara Lee has launched a 360-degree fully integrated consumer marketing program called the “Plot to Save the Earth, One Field at a Time,” and has re-launched its EarthGrains web site ( to include a description of how consumers purchasing habits may affect the environment.

“EarthGrains bread made with Eco-Grain wheat gives consumers the added knowledge that they are helping the environment with every loaf they purchase, in addition to the great taste and nutrition they expect,” said Tim Zimmer, vice-president of Sara Lee North American Fresh Bakery. “As part of our movement to help the environment, we’re educating consumers about how to take other small steps to make a positive impact, including supporting the use of innovative agricultural practices.”