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In recent years, the bakery goods market in many parts of the world has experienced a rapid increase in the number of products marketed as being made from grains, with whole grains one notable example, writes Jonathan Thomas.

Although this trend has been particularly evident in the bread sector, other bakery goods (e.g. biscuits and crackers) also now feature grains in larger quantities. Consumer interest in whole and ancient grains continues to grow; according to Deloitte, over 180,000 food products were reformulated worldwide in 2016. Approximately a quarter of these reformulations were to increase whole grain content.

In some instances, emphasis on whole grain content has accompanied other health claims, of which organic is one example. Although organic products still account for a relatively small share of the bakery goods market, the sector continues to develop, and the overlap between organic and grain-based products is sizeable.

Whole and ancient grains

Much of the recent growth in the market for whole grain bakery goods can be attributed to health concerns. US consumer data from the 2016 Food & Health Survey, carried out by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), included the following findings:

  • 59% of consumers were actively trying to consume more whole grains;
  • 76% of consumers rated whole grains as healthy;
  • 20% of consumers felt that whole grains were more healthful in 2016 compared with the previous year;
  • Of these, 70% were now eating more whole grains.

The market has also benefited from efforts made by the industry to raise consumer awareness of whole grains and their health benefits. One notable example is the Whole Grain Stamp, which was developed by the Whole Grains Council. As of April 2017, this appears on more than 11,000 different products in 58 countries, and each stamped food contains at least half of a serving of whole grains. In 2015, a record 2,122 new products launched in the US food market registered for the Whole Grain Stamp, up from 1,622 two years earlier.

Ancient grains’ comeback

Another current trend apparent within the global bakery goods market is the rising popularity of so-called ancient grains. To date, the most popular within the food industry have been varieties such as quinoa, spelt, flax and buckwheat, although as the category has broadened, manufacturers have been experimenting with other, less well-known types. Examples have included teff, millet, amaranth, sorghum, farro and polenta, all of which have recently featured in new product activity within the global food industry to some degree.

Much of the growing interest in ancient grains has been driven by the gluten-free trend, since many are free from gluten. In addition, ancient grains are also perceived as a source of interesting new flavors, as well as adding a rustic look and feel to products.

Numbers:

> 180k food products were reformulated worldwide in 2016

2,122 products launched in the US were whole grain in 2015

>11k products in 58 countries bear the Whole Grain Stamp

USD64bn – worldwide sales of whole grain and high-fiber foods by 2022

USD1bn per year – US sales of organic grain-based foods

You can read more in our print magazine European Baker & Biscuit (May/June 2017)! 

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