Post Categories: September 2015

Trending Tastes: Sprouting New Growth in Cereals and Grains

sept-2015-trendingThe past few years have been tough for many bread, pasta and cereal manufacturers. The backlash against gluten and processed carbs along with the rise of Paleo, Primal and other high-protein, low-carb diets have led to consistently declining sales. Cereal giant Kellogg’s, for example, saw an eight percent decline in sales in the fourth quarter of 2014—the seventh quarter in a row, according to Bloomberg. But the recent reinvigoration of sprouted grains—whole grain seeds that are allowed to just begin sprouting into new plants before they are used—may offer a way for CPGs to fight back.

The sprouting of grains isn’t new. Historically, it resulted naturally from harvesting and storage processes, which were much less controlled than they are today and allowed some of the harvested grains to continue growing (sprouting). What farmers learned then, and consumers are rediscovering now, is that sprouting often makes grains more digestible and heightens the availability of key vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, vitamin C and folate. Many sprouted grains, including amaranth, oats and spelt, are naturally gluten-free—and in some cases, sprouting wheat, barley and other grains with gluten may lower the final gluten content.

Consumers who seek out sprouted grain products today are often drawn to this reputation for better nutrition, as well as the idea that they are more natural and less processed than typical breads and cereals. According to Dr. David Sheluga, Director of Consumer Insights for grain processor Ardent Mills, the allure of sprouted grains also has an emotional component.

“Sprouted grains play into a deep emotional need for new beginnings, rebirth and renewal… Even those who know nothing about sprouting will conjure up images of water, sun, earth and new green sprouts in their imagination. The promise of fresh beginnings is very powerful,” said Sheluga in a recent interview with FoodNavigator-USA.

While the sprouted grains market is still relatively small in the U.S., it has seen rapid growth in recent years, with new product releases doubling between 2012 and 2014. Several bread and cereal manufacturers have introduced sprouted grain options to their lineups—and even Kellogg’s is getting into the mix, having recently added a sprouted grain cereal to its Kashi line. Other new product releases included sprouted grain pasta, crackers, pancake mix and even frozen pizza. According to Julian Mellentin of natural products insights firm New Nutrition Business, growth like this has sales of sprouted grains on track to reach $250 million by 2018.