Expert says companies should make use of health claims centered on grains.
Bowls, which may feature grains in salad or grains in soup, are eaten throughout the day.
“Millennials just love their bowls,” Ms. Nielsen said.
Thrive360 Eatery in Chicago features a salad bowl with farro, avocado and chicken. For a similar trend, cereal cups and grain cups are showing up in hotels and restaurants.
(1 of 6)
Grains may add protein, fiber and savory flavors to snacks. Ms. Nielsen said she could not wait until Julian’s Recipe Waffle Thins enter the retail market later this year. She saw the products, which come in sweet and savory flavors, at the Summer Fancy Food Show held June 26-28 in New York.
“This is a wonderful little cracker that has a whole different kind of feel,” she said.
Ms. Nielsen also mentioned Nonni’s Thinaddictives, a new take on biscotti that is similar to toasted bread thins, and quinoa puffs from I Heart Keenwah.
(2 of 6)
(Above) The bread lab is part of a Washington State University plant breeding program.
Small specialty mills are producing local, heirloom grains, but they may not be up to scale enough to provide a steady supply to large food manufacturers. Ms. Nielsen said food companies might incorporate such grains into limited-edition items.
“There are opportunities to create premium brands and even spell out to consumers that you may not get these (items) all the time,” she said. “This is going to be a special limited run, and after that, there may be another version of this product with a different grain.”
She pointed to Chipotle Mexican Grill, Denver, sourcing from the Bread Lab, which is part of the Washington State University plant breeding program in Mount Vernon, Wash.
“If this grain is grown and all of it goes to Chipotle, will there be any left for the little guys?” Ms. Nielsen asked. “That’s a big question. Right now the answer is yes.”
(3 of 6)
The sprouting of grains releases nutrients that become more accessible to the human body, Ms. Nielsen said. The success of Way Better Snacks has helped sprouted grains expand more into the mainstream market, she said. They no longer are found in just specialty food stores.
Locol fast-food restaurants in Oakland, Calif., and Los Angeles sell cheeseburgers with sprouted grains, mushrooms and tofu in the burgers, she said.
“You would never know there are sprouted grains added to this burger,” Ms. Nielsen said.
7-Eleven, Dallas, sells Go! Smart sprouted multigrain chips with sprouted flax, quinoa, chia, broccoli seeds and radish seeds.
(4 of 6)
Gluten-free items remain an opportunity for grain innovation. Packaged Facts expects the gluten-free category to reach $2.3 billion in sales by 2019 and sees growth coming especially in pasta, cold cereal, baking mixes and frozen bread dough.
Ms. Nielsen mentioned Banza gluten-free pasta made with chickpeas that contain 13 grams of fiber and 25 grams of protein. The category could become more upscale, too. Helmut Newcake in Paris offers premium gluten-free pastries.
“Of course, leave it to the French to make gluten-free glamorous,” Ms. Nielsen said.
(5 of 6)
Companies are turning to grain-free flour for their products. Siete Family Foods, Austin, Texas, offers tortillas made with almond flour. Cappello’s, Denver, sells fettuccine, gnocchi and lasagna made with almond flour and tapioca flour. Absolutely Gluten Free sells pizza with a cauliflower crust.
(6 of 6)