Consumers are turning to ancient and heirloom grains not only for their health and sustainability benefits, but also for rich textures and earthy flavors. While these ingredients are popular in whole grain breads, the formulation possibilities are endless. From healthy snacks and breakfast fare to dairy alternatives, baby food and vegetarian meals, ancient grains add variety and health appeal to numerous applications.
Among food and beverage brands, interest in barley is growing due to label-friendliness with consumers and versatility across many categories. Furthermore, barley has a strong sustainability story that can provide a genuine position that appeals to many consumers. For these and other reasons, brands are turning to barley to expand their portfolios with applications that appeal to the health-minded and environmentally conscious consumer.
Having been cultivated for millennia, barley is a grain familiar to many consumers, though they may only recently have learned it has uses beyond bread and beer. Many companies are now developing products to take advantage of this versatile, nutrient-rich grain, as barley contains fiber and protein, as well as manganese and B vitamins.
While nutrition and a light ecological footprint certainly add value for consumers, taste and texture are what matter most. According to data from IRI’s 2018 New Product Pacesetters survey, 93% of U.S. consumers surveyed said taste is the most influential factor when deciding to purchase a food or beverage. So, while a brand may wish to make appeals to health and sustainability to attract consumers, the eating experience remains fundamental to motivate repeat purchase and build brand loyalty.
Barley is an ancient grain that gives producers a platform upon which to innovate one-of-a-kind experiences for consumers looking for something unique, healthy and good for the planet. As one can see, the opportunities are not just in bread applications. Whether baked into snacks or added to breakfast bowls, the untapped possibilities for barley extend well beyond the bread loaf or pint of beer.
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Grains redefined: Formulating for healthy products – digital magazine.
Charlie Ross, EverGrain Ingredients' chief business officer, is seasoned in the business-to-business (B2B) ingredient industry, focused on functional foods for more than 20 years. He's a recognized expert in business turnarounds and designing go-to-market capabilities. Ross’ experience ranges from leading startup ingredient businesses to reinvigorating mature and global billion-dollar plant ingredient businesses.