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Food Processing News Quinoa

Product Focus: Ancient Grains’ Continued Growth

Food manufacturers have gotten creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.

Grains on the Menu 2017After quinoa’s popularity went mainstream in 2013 when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared it to be the International Year of Quinoa, the concept of ancient grains began to resonate with consumers. In response, food manufacturers started getting creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.

Ancient grains are defined as grains that have been largely unchanged since the beginning of time. This definition suggests modern varieties of corn, rice and wheat, which are products of years of selective breeding, are not ancient grains, according to The Whole Grain Council. Ancient grains tend to be richer sources of nutrients than modern grains; in particular, richer in fiber and protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals.

Though ancient grains are popular in baked goods and cereals — foods where one expects to find grains — they are also finding their way into meals and side dishes, often in combination with plant proteins, namely pulses, according to Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. Pulse-based ingredients are particularly valuable in improving the nutrient quality of gluten-free products, many of which are now being made with ancient grains instead of nutrient-void gluten-free staples rice and tapioca flour, as pulses and ancient grains complement each other from nutrition and sensory perspectives.

“For food processors, these ingredients provide whole-food, plant-based protein sources that enhance appearance, deliver unique tastes and textures, pack a nutritional wallop, and invite variety and innovation,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.

“We know vegetarian and flexitarian dietary patterns are continuing to trend. This is driving the popularity of nutrient-dense ancient grains” ~ Jane Dummer, registered dietitian and author of The Need for Seeds.

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Food Processing News General Mills Quinoa

General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains

Will include quinoa, spelt and Kamut, as well as its signature oats.

General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Oct 31, 2014

General Mills Inc. plans to start selling in January a version of Cheerios with quinoa and two wheat varieties, spelt and kamut, as well as its signature oats.

The company made no announcement about the product, to be called Cheerios Ancient Grains, but it carried a Wall Street Journal story on its own website. The Journal quoted Alan Cunningham, marketing manager for innovation in the cereal division, as saying grocery shoppers equate the words “ancient grains” with healthy, simple, nutrient dense food – even if they don’t know exactly what an ancient grain is.

The Journal said the number of foods that use the words “ancient grains” on packaging rose 50 percent this year compared to last, according to a spokesman for General Mills, citing Nielsen data. But the newspaper pointed out Cheerios Ancient Grains is no more nutritious than regular Cheerios.

Research by General Mills showed consumers find the words “ancient grains” more appealing than highlighting a single grain. “It’s not coincidence that this isn’t just Cheerios Plus Quinoa,” says Cunningham.

General Mills started selling another Cheerios spinoff, Cheerios Protein, in June.

READ ON: General Mills Plans Cheerios Ancient Grains