Seeking the next whole grain delivery system

by Jeff Gelski
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Whole grain inclusions have boosted sales for bread, cereals, muffins and other grain-based foods, but why stop there? Innovation has focused on whole grain applications for dairy, confectionery and beverages. Dakota Specialty Milling, for one, wants to find the next big delivery system for grains, said Wayne Flood, vice-president of marketing for the company based in Fargo, N.D.

"We don’t know what the next one is," he said. "We want to be there. We’re trying to find out ourselves. We’re working with some of the more innovative manufacturers."

Innovation has taken place in juice. Froose Brands, L.L.C., Media, Pa., uses its patented technology to put 4 grams of whole grain rice into its 4.23-oz Froose juice designed for children ages 1-6. Released in January, the product is sold on the Internet and is in limited retail distribution in the Northeast. Froose received a new product review score of 98 out of 100 from Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru.

"That was huge for us," said Denise Devine, founder and president of Froose Brands. "It was just astounding that he found this new little product."

Incorporated in January, Froose Brands wants to introduce other healthy products for children ages 1-6. The company will consider offering whole grain products in the categories of confectionery, dairy-based beverages, puddings and reconstituted beverages in powder form, Ms. Devine said.

Froose Brands will stay out of the baby food category.

"The big companies out there are handling that just fine," Ms. Devine said. "Absolutely, you could have whole grain in baby food. If they wanted to license our technology, it could be done."

Smoothies and nutraceutical beverages, along with bread, hot cereal, energy bars and pasta, are potential applications for Sustagrain Barley, an identity-preserved waxy barley variety from ConAgra Mills, Omaha.

RiceLife, a whole grain ingredient, recently was applied in Ricera brand organic yogurt, said Rick Ray, vice-president of sales and marketing for Creative Research Management, Stockton, Calif. Now available in syrup form, RiceLife may be used as a partial replacement or full replacement of corn syrup, Mr. Ray said. That strategy could involve adding whole grain in the nougat of a candy bar or adding whole grain not only in a muffin but also in its frosting.

Muffins and other baked foods still lead the whole grain trend.

"We see customers asking for whole grain solutions across all applications, but bread products are still the biggest — bread, rolls and tortillas," said Kyle Marinkovich, marketing manager for Horizon Milling, L.L.C., Wayzata, Minn. The company offers WheatSelect white spring whole wheat flour that has a lighter color, softer texture and milder taste than other whole wheat flours, according to the company.

The number of whole grain bakery product launches for 2007 was at 520 through Sept. 30, 2007, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database. The beverage category saw 10 whole grain new product launches during the same time, up from three for all of 2006 and two for all of 2005.

U.S. sales of ready-to-eat cereal with whole grain promoted on the label reached $3,485,945,619 for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3, 2007, according to The Nielsen Co., New York. U.S. sales of fresh bread promoted for its whole grain content reached $1,453,594,856 during the same time. The statistics covered U.S. food, drug and mass merchandisers, excluding Wal-Mart.

In contrast, U.S. sales of tapioca with whole grain promoted on the label reached $22,893 for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3, 2007, up from $18,483 in the previous 52 weeks. U.S. sales of cocoa with whole grain promoted on the label were $5,748 for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 3, 2007, up from $1,386 in the previous 52 weeks.

When adding whole grain to beverages, manufacturers should consider whole grain type, particle size, starch content, fiber content and makeup, and the targeted amount of whole grain per serving, said Elizabeth Arndt, manager, R.&D., for ConAgra Mills.

"The starch in grains, as well as some of the fiber components, such as the beta-glucan in Sustagrain barley, will thicken when a beverage is heat-processed," she said. "It may be necessary to add ingredients or processing steps to achieve the desired beverage viscosity."

Hydrocolloids, when used correctly in beverages, may keep whole grain sediment from forming at the bottom, Ms. Devine said. While Froose Brands uses brown rice for its whole grain source, it also has formulated whole grain juices with barley and oats. The choice of grain will have an effect on the choice of hydrocolloids and their use, Ms. Devine added.

Creative Research Management recently switched to offering its RiceLife ingredient in syrup concentrate form instead of as a spray-dried powder, Mr. Ray said. The switch saves customers money on spray-drying costs, he said. The syrup concentrate also works better in beverage applications and is easier for customers and manufacturers to handle.

"Pretty much every plant is used to using syrup," he said.


Consider ancient grains, barley

Wheat and oats are traditional sources of whole grain for processed food formulation, but some more non-traditional grains are out there. Ancient grains and barley are examples.

Ancient grains

ConAgra Mills, Omaha, now offers the ancient grains amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum and teff. Like other whole grains, the ancient grains provide nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and fiber, said Elizabeth Arndt, manager, R.&D., for ConAgra Mills. The ancient grains, particularly amaranth, millet and quinoa, tend to be higher in lipid and mineral content than other whole grains.

"For baked good applications, the ancient grain ingredients should be used in a similar manner as other whole grains that do not contain functional gluten," she said. "It is necessary to pay close attention to the formula and processing factors, including water absorption, mix time and use of other functional ingredients to ensure that the desired end product characteristics are delivered."


An article appearing on-line in the Journal of Cereal Science focused on a Washington State University study that said food manufacturers are using barley more often, but they may face technical challenges.

Dakota Specialty Milling, Fargo, N.D., recently installed a processing line for barley, which will allow the company to process more barley in-house and thus improve quality control.

"We definitely see barley as a growing ingredient (in use)," said Wayne Flood, vice-president of sales and marketing.

ConAgra Mills offers Sustagrain Barley, an identity-preserved waxy barley variety. The fiber-dense grain has three times the total and soluble fiber of oats, which may allow for development of products that meet nutrient content claims or health claims at lower use levels, Ms. Arndt said.

"As with the ancient grains and other whole grains that do not contain functional gluten, it is necessary to pay attention to the formula and processing factors," she said.

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