Now there is solid evidence that ancient grains are in high demand. Grains like quinoa, amaranth, farro, and spelt are growing in popularity with today’s consumers because of their perceived health benefits, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

Case shipments of ancient grain categories by broadline distributors to US foodservice outlets increased by double-digits over the past year, according to NPD’s SupplyTrack, a monthly service that tracks shipments from major distributors to more than 700,000 foodservice operators. Case shipments of quinoa, which is the most widely used ancient grain, increased by 18.5% in the year ending October 2017 compared to the same period a year ago.

Two ancient grains not as commonly known, spelt (a distinct type of whole grain wheat) and farro (a whole grain similar to barley and wheat berries) also realized double-digit growth in case shipments. Case shipments of amaranth (a staple food of the Aztecs and comparable to rice or maize) increased by 19.4% in the period, according to NPD. 

“The increasing popularity of ancient grains at foodservice outlets is partly due to consumer interest in the grains, but it’s also because chefs appreciate the unique flavors of these grains,” says Annie Roberts, vice president for NPD SupplyTrack. “Just proves that everything ancient can become new again.”             

“Today’s consumer is knowledgeable and curious and opinionated about what they eat and put in their bodies,” says Joanne Chang of  Flour Bakery + Café. “Offering products with whole grains is hugely important.”