Grains are hot on the menus of America’s leading restaurants. The whole grains commitment is part of Panera’s launch of “Food Interrupted,” a digital platform aimed at providing increased transparency. These “webisodes,” which will also air on Facebook Watch, will follow leaders in the food world as they meet people who have dedicated their lives to changing America’s food system.

It is also notable that ancient grains are gaining widespread popularity in sandwich breads. One of the most popular ancient grains is quinoa.

Quinoa originated among the Incas in Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa farming is better suited for a cooler climate, such as that in the Andes mountains and the Canadian plains. Denver-based Ardent Mills works with growers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta through its “Great Plains Quinoa” program.

“Our Great Plains Quinoa program continues to build momentum, largely driven by the supply assurance and predictable pricing that comes from growing in North America,” Don Trouba, senior director, go-to market for The Annex by Ardent Mills, told Food Business News, a sister publication of bake.

The Annex by Ardent Mills sources, processes and markets specialty grains and other plant-based ingredients. “Since the launch of our program in 2017, we’ve continued our efforts by building relationships with universities and breeders, as well as growers, to further develop different varieties and ensure availability of quality products for any application.”

Research from Ardent Mills shows the number of retail products with quinoa in the United States grew 23% in 2016. Ardent Mills’ proprietary research from Nielsen Scantrack, XAOC shows a 72% average annual growth rate for products with quinoa since 2012.

Donna Reiser, marketing communications manager, Bay State Milling Co., cited Mintel data showing 255 new product introductions in North America containing quinoa in the past 12 months. The products varied from baby food to bakery items, cereal, snacks, bars, pasta and meat substitutes.

“Items containing quinoa, both whole grain and flour, are now mainstream items for shoppers,” she told Food Business News.