Hemp bread
Orlando Baking Co. is planning to roll out bread containing hemp.

When it comes to hemp as a food ingredient, most people think of Colorado and other areas where a new generation of Doobie Brothers is a mile high and living off the land. Nobody would consider that an Old World bakery like Cleveland-based Orlando Baking Co., known for its signature ciabatta bread, would be planning to roll out bread containing hemp. But the bakery is doing just that.

Orlando Baking is working with the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, which helped develop and certify Orlando Baking’s True Grains line as part of the clinic’s Go! Well program. To expand this line of probiotic bread, Orlando Baking turned to its sales team to scout out trends.

“We saw that hemp and chia seed have taken off during the past three-plus years,” said Meredith Long, marketing manager. Internally the company went back and forth on the concepts because hemp has such a stigma to it.

“We think that such concerns will go away, and people will be able to differentiate hemp from the 1960s and look at it instead as a protein-packed, high-density nutrient,” said Nick Orlando Jr., vice-president of sales and marketing. Introduced five years ago, True Grains is geared toward younger, college-aged and senior-living consumers, Ms. Long said.

That’s because the younger market seeks more natural ways of promoting individual health while the more mature shoppers search for natural solutions to their existing health concerns. As a result, universities, hospitals, assisted-living centers and other large institutional food service companies provide one outlet while retail offers endless opportunities. In the long run, the key involves educating consumers, which the bakery does though social media and targeted email blasts.