The milling major had started R&D on fully-sprouted grains around two years ago, but the idea manifested itself far earlier – almost 20 years ago, said Darren Schubert, VP of sales and marketing for the firm.
“The goal is to offer low cost, fully-sprouted products on all different types of grains,” he told Milling & Grains and BakeryandSnacks.com at last month’s IFT in New Orleans.
However, the focus for the company would be on its focal grain – oat. The benefit of fully sprouting the oats was improved nutrient bioavailability, he explained.
However, “sprouting oat is a big challenge”, he said. “We’d like to see it on the market in a year and a half, or so. We’ll see how that goes.”
The company had been conducting trials and development in its Eugene, Oregon facility.
But… what is a sprouted grain?
In working on developing fully-sprouted oats and grains, Schubert said Grain Millers also wanted to fuel and participate in a discussion around the definition of ‘sprouted’.
“What’s currently on the market is usually in finished bread formats where the grains are sprouted just for a short period of time, making some slight modification, and you see the term ‘sprouted’. So, what we’re actually trying to do is define the term, hopefully with participation of the food industry,” he said. Because, he said, there was a significant difference in bioavailability between fully-sprouted grains and those that had been sprouted for 24 hours. The process needed to be measured somehow, he explained.
Grain Millers was set to participate in a forum at the AACC International with other companies to discuss the future of introducing fully-sprouted grains onto the market safely. Schubert said the company would use that as an opportunity to involve the AACCI in the discussion on a definition.
“It’s also about making sure consumers understand what they’re getting,” he said.
In 2008, the AACCI’s Board of Directors gave the following definition to ‘sprouted grains’: "Malted or sprouted grains containing all of the original bran, germ, and endosperm shall be considered whole grains as long as sprout growth does not exceed kernel length and nutrient values have not diminished. These grains should be labeled as malted or sprouted whole grain."
This definition was subsequently endorsed by the USDA.
The sprouting process, Schubert said, was no easy task because it was a wet environment; perfect for spores and other bacterias.
“In the sprouting, you want to make sure you maintain the safety and mitigate any risk at that moment, because you might take that grain and sell it as a wholegrain, so you want to make sure it’s safe at that time.”
The safety challenge of sprouting was one of the main reasons most companies opted for a short, 24-hour sprouting, he said.