BALTIMORE — Purple corn is certainly not new to the market — in fact, it was first cultivated centuries ago — but the colorful crop pops up in several new products presented at Natural Products Expo East, held Sept. 16-19 in Baltimore.
The Peruvian staple historically has been used as a colorant for food and beverage products, but research suggests the vegetable’s high concentration of anthocyanins may yield health benefits, too. Suntava, Inc., an Afton, Minn.-based supplier of non-bioengineered purple corn ingredients, said the vibrant strain of maize may protect against cancer, obesity and inflammation.
At Expo East, Back to the Roots, Oakland, Calif., unveiled a new addition to its Stoneground Flakes cereal line. The product contains only three ingredients: organic Minnesota-grown purple corn, organic cane sugar and a pinch of sea salt. A serving has 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 40 grams of whole grains and 60 mg of antioxidants, according to the company.
Like the brand’s other cereal varieties, the purple corn flakes are packaged in a recyclable carton made with less plastic and paper than traditional cereal boxes and non-toxic vegetable inks.
Late July Snacks, a Boston-based business unit of Snyder’s-Lance, debuted organic purple corn tortilla chips at the expo. The product contains organic whole ground purple corn, organic expeller pressed oils and sea salt. Late July said it uses purple corn grown in the United States that has been cultivated from an heirloom variety of ancient Andean corn.
“Purple corn is known for its high antioxidant levels and flavorful taste,” said Nicole Bernard Dawes, founder and chief executive officer of Late July.
Purple corn also is the centerpiece of a new variety of Peace Cereal from Eugene, Ore.-based Attune Foods, a business unit of Post Holdings. Featuring lightly glazed flakes made with organic purple corn and brown rice, the cereal contains 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 90 calories per serving.Potato chip makers are seeing purple, too. At Expo East, Jackson’s Honest Chips, Crested Butte, Colo., featured a purple heirloom potato chips variety cooked in coconut oil. Purple potatoes have four times as many antioxidants as white fleshed potatoes, according to the company.