Wheat, long a staple of the American diet, is increasingly being replaced by ancient grains such as quinoa, whole grains, millet, sorghum, teff and amaranth, according to Food Business News.
Analysts from Datassential looked at how often several ancient grains appeared on restaurant menus to see how much they had been adopted by the general public. Quinoa had received the proliferation stage, reaching 8.8% of menus studied. It is on 21.5% of fast casual menus, 17.5% of fine dining menus, and 10.4% of casual restaurant menus.
- Farro is starting to appear on more menus and is classified as at the adoption level, but most other ancient grains — including sorghum, teff and kamut — are at the inception level.
Consumer demand for ancient grains shows no sign of slowing down, and supermarkets, food producers and restaurants are rising up to meet the challenge. This trend has grown in part because of consumers' sensitivity to wheat, rye and barley, grains that contain the gluten protein.
According to the Whole Grains Council, ancient grains are more nutritious than modern grains, such as wheat, rye and barley, because their nutritional value has remained unchanged over hundreds of years. As consumers increasingly demand less processed foods, ancient grains are replacing modern grains as ingredients in many food products.
A 2015 report by Packaged Facts says that every 30 days, one in five Americans purchase grocery store items or choose restaurant menu meals that contain ancient grains. In addition to health concerns, many consumers site the rich flavors of ancient grain ingredients that enhance the overall taste of prepared meals as a top reason for their growing popularity.
Even consumers who are not gluten sensitive or do not have allergies towards gluten are becoming increasingly attracted to ancient grains ingredients because these ingredients pack a nutritional punch and add more variety to foods in terms of textures and tastes.