New grain options for bakeries and pizzerias
By Ardent Mills
By Ardent Mills
From fine dining to food truck fare, Bakers Journal explores options for balancing consumers’ need for healthy ingredients with their demand for indulgent food experiences. Where does the connection between nostalgia and health lie? Elaine O’Doherty of Ardent Mills fills us in on what’s new with ancient grains.
Who and what types of businesses/operators does Ardent Mills work with?
Ardent Mills serves a wide variety of customers who are looking for high-quality grain ingredients, as well as support from our experts who can help with everything from product development and sourcing to distribution and packaging.
We serve North American distributors, CPG manufacturers, artisan and commercial bakers, retailers and the foodservice industry, including both commercial and institutional foodservice operators.
What types of ingredients are you currently using to develop flours?
We’re leveraging industry and consumer trends to drive innovation in flour. Ardent Mills has put a stake in the ground marking our commitment to organic with a broad portfolio of certified organic flours, grains and mixes.
Additionally, we are riding the wave of plant-based eating, and with the rising popularity of chickpeas as a source of protein, chickpea flour is trending. We recently introduced chickpea flour, and we’re confident it will fill the demand for operators looking to deliver plant-based and protein-focused options.
What properties make them suitable for use in flours?
Aside from their unique flavour, chickpeas offer a host of nutritional and operational benefits. Our chickpea flour contains approximately 20 grams of protein per 100-gram serving and is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as iron and folate. It’s also available in three varieties: coarsely milled, ultra fine and gluten free, allowing operators to cater to their customers’ dietary preferences.
Many flours milled from ancient grains can offer the benefits of whole grain nutrition, including the possibility of high amounts of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and trace vitamins. Certain varieties, such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, teff and millet, are also naturally gluten-free. Ancient grains can also bring a unique texture to flour for added variety and opportunity to drive culinary innovation.
Is there an ingredient you plan to work with in future – that you can share with us? Why?
We’re continuing to keep an eye on industry and consumer trends, and we’re excited to share that on February 18 we purchased substantially all of the assets of Andean Naturals, Inc., which operated a gluten-free quinoa sourcing, cleaning and packing facility in Yuba City, California. This reinforces our commitment to innovation and growth in specialty grains.
Is it important for bakeries to adjust their menus to meet demand for more nutritional food? Why?
An ideal menu is balanced with health-conscious and indulgent options. Pizza, depending on the crust and the toppings, can fit into both categories. Offering pizza menu items that are on the lighter or more nutritious side can capture the attention of consumers who are looking to include pizza in their healthy lifestyle or who want to partake without going overboard. Crust options suitable for consumers who follow vegan or gluten-free diet guidelines can help meet this niche (but growing) consumer demand; similarly, whole grain crusts or crusts made with organic flours can satisfy those consumers looking for more transparency and “cleaner-label” ingredients.
Operators should also consider toppings – items like roasted root vegetables can pack a delightful flavour and nutritional punch, and crust add-ins, such as quinoa, chickpea flour and spelt, could offer even more nutrition, texture and flavour.
Which specialized markets – certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and organic compliant – do you think the fresh-pizza industry should pay the most attention to? Why?
At Ardent Mills, we encourage our customers to see organic as a great messaging opportunity, even if they don’t go 100 percent certified organic. With organic flour, restaurant and bakery operators can offer bread, flatbreads or pizza “made with organic flour.” Even if all the other toppings and ingredients are not 100 percent organic, diners will appreciate having organic options available.
This is key as demand for organic continues to heat up. According to the Canada Organic Trade Association (OTA), the current organic-food market is estimated at $4.4 billion, representing 1.8 percent of the total foodservice market. The Canada OTA reports 66 percent of grocery shoppers are now purchasing organic items weekly – and 83 percent of those weekly organic shoppers are millennials , a large and influential purchasing demographic.
Can you share any tips for bakers in developing a signature experience?
From food trucks to fine dining, today eating out is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Consumers want to connect to the specific ingredients they eat – from local heirloom tomatoes to organic and ancient grains. When developing a “multigrain pizza crust,” consider the flavour profile and functionality of each individual grain. Chefs should experiment with several types of flour and grain combinations to find the right balance for their best-selling toppings.