As people start baking cookies, cakes, gingerbread and other traditional holiday treats, Bay State Milling's newest offering aims to add a functional edge: fiber.
Last month, the company launched Flourish, a high-fiber, all-purpose flour targeted at consumers. The company primarily works in the B2B channel, creating grain ingredients for manufacturers. Flourish is made from high-amylose wheat, a high-fiber variety of wheat that Bay State Milling has exclusive rights to farm in North America. Flourish behaves and tastes almost exactly like regular all-purpose flour, the company said, but it contains five times the fiber.
Jillian Wishman, strategic marketing manager at Bay State Milling, said the family-owned company's mission is to deliver healthy and affordable grains. And as only 5% of people in the U.S. are getting the recommended amount of fiber in their diets, Wishman said it's a great opportunity to launch a flour that allows consumers to increase their intake. As an added bonus, the fiber in Flourish is prebiotic, contributing to better gut health, she said.
"The consumer trends illustrate that now is the perfect time to launch a better-for-you all-purpose flour, like the increased interest around personal nutrition and immunity, the huge resurgence ... in baking, especially as the holidays approach, and this kind of [trend going] back to comfort foods," Wishman said. "So all of the stars really aligned and allowed us to deliver something to consumers for the first time, rather than just our typical audience."
While Flourish is a new product, it's really a consumer-friendly blend of some Bay State Milling products popular with manufacturing customers. The company uses high-amylose wheat to make its HealthSense flour, sold to corporate customers. For Flourish, Bay State Milling blends HealthSense with regular flour to make it familiar to consumers. Matthew Jacobs, Bay State Milling's director of strategic marketing, said the Flourish branding and campaign were also intended to make the high-fiber flour more accessible. HealthSense is already in wide use by manufacturers, appearing in products from pizza to pasta to tortillas, Jacobs said.
Flourish is only sold on Amazon, where it became one of the top new products in the category soon after it launched, Wishman said. It meets several consumer needs right now, she noted. According to statistics cited by Bay State Milling, 77% of consumers — many of whom are stuck at home because of the pandemic — plan to bake more this holiday season. And, as many consumers are trying to eat for their health, nearly a third say immune health is top of mind.
While the gluten-free food movement has led some consumers with no allergies or medical conditions to avoid wheat for unclear health reasons, Jacobs said the trend has actually helped wheat flour.
"You've seen a proliferation of other specialty flours emerge, kind of in that void," he said. "And I think what that has done is it's made the whole category much more dynamic. That aisle in the grocery store used to be completely just dead. This has helped people tune into the category, whether they're looking for free-from versions of whatever the flour is, or for a particular benefit. That momentum had already started."
While Flourish is a consumer-targeted product, Jacobs said Bay State Milling could provide similar blends to manufacturing customers. And supplying Flourish to consumers could actually spur some manufacturer interest, he said. If consumers recognize the brand name and associate it with health and wellness, a food maker could capitalize on that brand. The popularity of Flourish could also show manufacturers the priority consumers place on better-for-you flour.
Jacobs said Bay State Milling really thought about how to do a branded push of its higher-fiber flour products to consumers. It considered working more closely with manufactured products, but nixed the idea because the company wanted consumers to truly understand wheat's health benefits.
"We actually thought that flour is the most stripped-down, fundamental, not-dressed-up format, and is a way to actually display the great taste and texture and performance that this wheat flour can offer," Jacobs said.