This is a giant metatrend, largely because Americans get a high percentage of their calories from refined grains. Such bakery and snack products usually lack fibre and are often high in sugar.
“It’s not that consumers don’t want to eat them; they just want to shift a little bit more to wholegrain,” says Cheatham. “This is where ancient grains—which, ironically, is actually a new grain category—comes in. It means that we are turning back to grains that maybe we haven’t been using so much, but which actually have some history to them and aren’t always just white and refined wheat flour.”
Sorghum came high within the flour category, as did millet, buckwheat and quinoa, though grain-free flours have also become a big trend, possibly encouraged by the gluten-free movement. New forms of flour are now being made from almonds and sweet potatoes, which also contain good nutrition.
Many consumers are looking for a combination of quality and nutrition, especially in the bakery segment, which is leaning towards premiumisation, with products like Canadian cookies that have wholegrain and vegetables in them, and Power Protein Pasta from America, which behaves like a regular pasta but is made of lentils.
“Grain-free flours may not yet have really hit Asia, but it is worth looking at this now. People will probably shift away from gluten, so you should be looking at grain-free options in case they do,” Cheatham added.