- Whole wheat demand has grown softer in recent years, but interest in whole grains remains high, Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies at the Whole Grains Council, told BakingBusiness.com.
- Harriman said that so far this year, 1,282 new products have registered for the Whole Grain Stamp, putting it on pace to match last year's record total of 2,122 new products. Registrations for the stamp hit 1,666 in 2014 and 1,622 in 2013.
- While flour was once the dominant form for whole grains, consumers and manufacturers are embracing intact whole grains, which can bring additional textures, flavors and health benefits to a product.
Increased consumption of whole grains includes both gluten-free grains, such as quinoa and other ancient grains, and gluten grains, such as barley, rye and triticale. Sprouted grains are also receiving more attention and are expected to generate product sales of $250 million by 2018.
Consumers seem to have mixed feelings about grains in general. On one hand, gluten-free sales continue to rise as consumers—with and without celiac disease and gluten intolerance—purchase gluten-free foods for their perceived health benefits. More than half (54%) of new products with the Whole Grain Stamp had a gluten-free first ingredient last year, an increase over 33% in 2007 to 2009, according to Harriman.
However, scientists have questioned those benefits, such as weight loss, for consumers without celiac disease. Some consumers are eating gluten-free foods "just for the variety," Harriman said.
On the other hand, consumers have increased their demand for whole grains, with 27% saying they eat more whole grains than they did six months ago, according to a recent survey. Manufacturers can use whole grains to add functionality and health benefits to their products, such as additional fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.