Some consumers may be ready to reunite with gluten. Though gluten-free remained a leading claim in new products presented at Natural Products Expo East, held Sept. 16-19 in Baltimore, not every brand is innovating against the grain.
“I wouldn’t say that gluten-free eating is over,” said Jenna Blumenfeld, senior food editor at New Hope Natural Media, which produces Expo East. “It’s still a highly sought-out special diet. Rather, manufacturers and consumers are seeking products made with ancient grains like Kamut and spelt … The story has shifted to be less about the evils of gluten and more about the healthiness of ancient grains.
“In the case of Kamut and spelt, their ancient-grain status trumps their gluten content.”
In a recent report from market research firm Packaged Facts, 19% of U.S. consumers in the past year said they have purchased menu or retail items with ancient grains, and the trend is expected to continue. Moreover, the grains rising the fastest in terms of dollar sales growth last year based on SPINS data were Kamut (686%), spelt (363%) and freekeh (159%), Packaged Facts reported.
“These ingredients tap into ancient wisdom — a set of consumer values that trusts the benefits of foods that have been consumed by humans for thousands of years,” Ms. Blumenfeld said.
Kamut, spelt, freekeh and other gluten-containing grains were highlighted at the show as wholesome ingredients in new cereal, bread and baked snacks. Brooklyn-based Spelt Right Foods showcased a line of snack chips, bread and bagels made with organic spelt, which the company said is rich in protein, insoluble fiber and certain vitamins and minerals. Berlin Natural Bakery, Berlin, Ohio, sampled its portfolio of spelt bread, noodles and cookies. One Degree Organic Foods, Abottsford, B.C., added new cereal varieties featuring such ingredients as organic spelt and organic red fife wheat.
New products from Food For Life Baking Co., Corona, Calif., include English muffins, cereal and waffles made with sprouted wheat, barley and spelt. Dave’s Killer Bread, Milwaukie, Ore., presented two new organic varieties of bread. White Bread Done Right is made with wheat, barley, rye and spelt, and Sprouted Whole Grains features organic wheat, sprouted barley flakes and sprouted rye flakes.
Kamut or Khorasan wheat crops up in new sprouted ancient grains croutons from T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, Ohio; a new organic bread variety from Alpine Valley Bread Co., Mesa, Ariz.; and a new ready-to-eat cereal from Back to Nature, Naples, Fla.
New indulgences launched at Expo East are formulated with whole wheat. Nature’s Bakery, Reno, Nev., introduced a line of packaged chocolate brownies made with stoneground whole wheat flour, and 4:00 Cookie Group L.L.C., Little Ferry, N.J., featured a line of whole wheat cookies with such varieties as oatmeal raisin, fudgy brownie and chocolate macadamia crunch.
Jane’s Dough Foods, Columbus, Ohio, rolled out a new line of organic pizzas featuring a crust made with organic wheat with a blend of organic ancient grains — marking a departure from the company’s flagship line of gluten-free flatbreads.