‘Ancient grains’ is a catch all phrase that gives positive cues to shoppers. It conveys a sense of wisdom and ‘goodness’ from the past that has been handed down the generations. It also suggests premium quality and exclusivity. Its lack of specificity has been very useful in marketing terms.

According to research company Mintel, naming specific grains and seeds may be the way forward. You can still get the perception of a natural, less processed product and the benefits of the ‘ancient grain’ positioning. At the same time, you have the opportunity to highlight the unique qualities and benefits of particular grain or seed varieties.

Each ancient grain variety offers a unique flavour profile and its own individual combination of nutritional values. According to Mintel, the percentage of bakery launches containing spelt have nearly doubled in the last 3 years, while quinoa has more than trebled!

Ancient grains are that rare product where they have a fantastic story, a great public perception, and are a functional superfood. With ancient grains, it’s very hard to find a downside, as they more than make up for their above-average price tag. Bizarrely, to give consumers more choice, we’re looking to the foods of the past.

Quinoa - Quinoa is an exotic ingredient almost unheard of in this country until around 5 years ago. The staple crop originated from the Andean region of South America and up until recently has only been available to us as an import. Now East Anglia is paving the way for locally grown quinoa.

Over the last few years, demand for the grain has risen significantly – no surprise given its high nutritional values and benefits to health. It is one of the top grains in terms of protein contents. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it extremely valuable to those on high-protein diets or those such as vegans whose diets may otherwise lack the full range of proteins. Quinoa is also high in nutrients such as vitamins E and B. One portion contains nearly 60% of the recommended intake of manganese, 30% of magnesium and 19% of folate.

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