Natural Products Expo West

King Arthur 'unlocks' weeknight baking with savory bread mix kits, enhances-sustainability with regeneratively-grown Climate Blend flour

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: King Arthur
Source: King Arthur

Related tags regenerative agriculture

Consumer interest in baking and sourdough, which spiked during the pandemic before dipping slightly as the world reopened, is resurging with a particular interest in savory options and simplified weeknight solutions, according to King Arthur Baking Company.

At the same time, consumer concern about the environment also is on the rise – prompting some shoppers to seek more sustainable options that are better for the planet and farmers, added John Henry Siedlecki, Vice President of Innovation at King Arthur Baking Company.

In response, he told FoodNavigator-USA, King Arthur is introducing at Natural Products Expo West this week a line of four savory yeasted mix kits for more convenient mid-week baking (showcasing at booth #890) and a first-to-market whole wheat Regeneratively-Grown Climate Blend flour (on display at booth #5185).

Both launches are designed to bring more people to baking and the regenerative agriculture movement, which Siedlecki described as “no small undertaking” and one that will require industry change.

Savory bread mix kits 'fit nicely into busy lifestyles for more weeknight baking'

Part of bringing more people into the fold – whether as bakers or farmers – is increasing accessibility.

For baking, this means offering mix kits that are convenient, affordable and approachable for home cooks of every skill level, Siedlecki said.

He explained with the launch of King Arthur’s Savory Bread Mix Kits, including Pull-Apart Garlic Bread, Soft & Chewy Pretzel Bites, Crisp & Airy Focaccia, and Perfectly Tender Flatbread, “we are unlocking the power of and ability for consumers to bake yeasted products in under an hour – so it should fit nicely into busy lifestyles for more weeknight baking.”

He added each kit includes all the dry ingredients and toppings so that consumers only need add the liquid ingredients – allowing them to more easily “escape from the everyday and immerse themselves in the world of baking.”

He explained that many consumers who discovered baking during the pandemic have continued the practice and are looking for new recipes and ideas.

“Sourdough was one of the biggest search trends of the pandemic and while those searches have come down, baking has really continued to accelerate and we see consumers continue to look for these DIY baking products,” Siedlecki said.

“Believe it or not,” he added, “searches for sourdough spiked back up again this past January and February to near pandemic, if not over, pandemic levels. So, it is one of those interesting things where consumers learned how to bake during the pandemic and it is something they are learning how to do again. It is something that really stuck with them and continues to resonate with them.”

He explained that consumers may be interested in baking today because it gives them more control over their diets and budgets.

“Baking allows you to control the ingredients that are going into your product. It also allows you to save some money by baking at home, which is often cheaper than buying pre-made baked goods,” he added.

By introducing savory baking kits, King Arthur also is able to “tap into more baking occasions” and a white space in the market, as “there are so many mixes in the sweet space,” Siedlecki said.

King Arthur debuts 'grains for good' to support regenerative ag

To encourage more farmers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices, King Arthur is creating more demand for regeneratively grown wheat with the recent launch of its certified Regeneratively-Grown Climate Blend flour, which is on display at Natural Products Expo West in the company’s booth dedicated to what it calls “grains for good.”

The blend was created in collaboration with the Washington State University Breadlab, which helped breed and identify wheat varietals that are better suited for regenerative farming practices, including an innovative perennial wheat that grow back for two or three years without needing to be replanted, said Siedlecki.

“The blend is a really unique product. It acts and bakes like a whole wheat product and has  a really unique, rich, nutty flavor but also great versatility in terms of the types of recipes that you can use it in,” he added.

Alongside the Climate Blend, King Arthur will showcase at Natural Products Expo West its Golden Wheat flour, which Siedlecki said also is regeneratively grown but not yet certified. The flour is a repositioning of the company’s existing white whole wheat flour, he added.

“We are going to continue to launch new products or move products into being regeneratively grown and fold them into this idea of grains for good” as part of King Arthur’s commitment to source 100% of its flour from regeneratively grown wheat by 2030, Siedlecki said.

He explained the company made the commitment to source all of its flour from regeneratively farmed wheat because it supports the company’s deep connection to the planet and land as a Certified B Corp.

“Hopefully this pledge will set up for success the future of the planet Earth and the ecosystem that we live in. This is a step change and it is trying to put real movement behind getting farmers on board with using regenerative practices,” Siedlecki said.

The launch, and broader transition, also responds to a growing consumer desire to good with every purchase they make, he added.

“When they see a product that is grown using regenerative practices, that is really going to resonate with them,” he said.

“The other half of it is the education piece and how do we bring consumers along on that journey and have them see the importance and need of products like this in changing the world we live in,” he added.

To that end, he said, King Arthur is using its website and packaging to introduce consumers to regenerative agriculture. Recognizing that regenerative agriculture is a complex topic, Seidlecki said the company conducted consumer research and found claims around soil health resonates most.

“The consumer can really understand and gravitates towards soil health and when you take a look at our Climate Blend packaging, you will see that it talks about restoring soil health as being a key tenant and key benefit of the product and how the wheat is grown,” he said.

Related topics Ingredients

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