Ancient grains and cereals have enjoyed a revival of interest in recent years, as they fit with the desire for less processed ingredients and attention to the nutritional value of foods.
For instance, Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) lists 176 products using spelt as an ingredient launched in Europe in the last 18 months. Five years ago there were under 70 a year. Meanwhile CSM says its target segment, specialty breads, saw 4 per cent growth last year in the UK to reach a value of £485m.
CSM’s new blend – to which specialty bakers must add flour, water and yeast, was developed by new product development teams across Europe. It combines spelt with the two grains from which it was developed around 4000BCE, emmer and einkorn.
Spelt is easier to digest than normal bread wheat, and has higher protein, fibre amino acid, B vitamin and complex carbohydrate content. Emmer, meanwhile, is described as a dark and aromatic with its roots in the Neolithic era; and einkorn is a fine and nutty-tasting grain that is also said to compare favourably to modern wheat in nutrition stakes.
The blend has been dubbed Arcady Ancient Cereals Bread Mix, and the company has also incorporated “anti-staling technology” to help the bread stay fresher for longer. It has not disclosed exactly what ingredients underlie this shelf-life enhancement.
Another grain garnering interest in the EU is chia seed (Salvia hispanica), which hails from Latin America and is a member of the mint family. Rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seed received novel foods approval in late 2009, more than six years after the application was lodged.
Chia has been proposed as a way to add omega-3 (ALA) into bread and is currently being offered by Columbus Paradigm Institute and Chilean firm Functional Products Trading.
Other companies supplying bakery ingredients have positioned flour mixes on a gluten-free platform (which is not possible with spelt). For instance, ConAgra Mills in the US last year launched a gluten-free flour by tapping its portfolio of ancient grains including amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, millet and teff.
The flour is claimed to have superior nutritional properties compared to other gluten-free offerings, which may be made up of white rice, potato and corn flours.