‘Forgotten’ grains make a comeback
Launch numbers for food and drink products containing grains such as quinoa, chia, buckwheat, hemp and amaranth have been rising in recent years, according to data from Innovation Market Insights.
Products containing quinoa rose nearly 50 per cent over the 12 months to the end of September 2013, for example, and have risen more than fivefold over a five-year period. Rising interest in the US has largely been responsible for this growth, although launches are now becoming increasingly common in Europe.
Quinoa is indigenous to South America, and as well as finding a place in a variety of different grain-based food categories, including breakfast cereals, snack bars and biscuits, activity in other sectors is rising and now includes confectionery, beverages, ready meals and baby foods.
There is also a focus on gluten-free formulations, with 38 per cent of launches featuring quinoa using a gluten-free positioning in the 12 months to the end of September 2013.
Another upcoming ancient grain is chia, a Latin American annual herb high in protein, dietary fibre and antioxidants, with a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids in its oil. Although much less established than quinoa, it is showing a similar growth rate.
Launches of products containing chia rose from probably single figures five years ago to in the hundreds now, with an increase of nearly 50 per cent in the 12 months to the end of September 2013 alone.
“Ancient grains were once very popular basic food cereals, but became largely obsolete in many countries, with the rise of modern cereal crops, such as wheat and corn,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.