Whole grains are growing at a remarkable rate and proving in market after market that consumers worldwide are beginning to understand the importance of them. As of May 2023, the Whole Grain Stamp is now on more than 13,000 different products in 65 countries, according to data from The Whole Grains Council.

Survey data from Ardent Mills reveals broad interest and familiarity with ancient grains. Of note, the survey found that most consumers are interested in purchasing items with ancient grains, nearly 90% of respondents want to know more about ancient grains, and 63% of respondents are familiar with ancient grains.

Wholesale bakeries are answering this call for higher quality options. In Kansas City, Kan., Farm to Market Bread Co. blossomed over three decades into a brand that is widely known and loved by consumers throughout the region.

The company has a rich history. While working at a commercial bakery in the ‘80s, Farm to Market’s founders Mark Friend and Fred Spompinato developed a shared love of bread. Friend became enamored with the sourdough fermentation process, while Spompinato was partial to a grainy wheat loaf. They recognized a need in Kansas City for fresh bread baked from quality ingredients. In 1993, Farm to Market Bread Co. was born from that idea.

Friend passed away a year ago, and his son, John, now runs the business. They deliver fresh daily to neighboring Kansas cities including Olathe, Topeka, and Lawrence, as well as seasonal breads such as panettone and stolen to the Rocky Mountains region. Frozen bread distribution goes farther – to Wichita, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Omaha, Ne. They recently started a sourdough program with Costco that is going very well, he says.

“Our frozen distribution side is expanding. That is our biggest growth area now,” John Friend said. “If you do it right, frozen makes a lot of sense.”

He is equally excited about their conversion to using Farmer Direct flour.

“We are thrilled to partner with Farmer Direct Foods. We share the same values of supporting local farmers and sourcing sustainable, traceable ingredients,” he said. “This partnership will allow us to continue producing the high-quality bread that our customers love, while also strengthening our commitment to the local food community.”

Friend further explains the importance of controlled growth and the need for Farm to Market to sustain their high-quality profile. “Every piece of bread is touched by human hands at some point. We want to grow, but we won’t compromise our quality for anything.”

 High standards are evident everywhere. Farm to Market relies on Bundy pans, which feature a new pan coating that prevents any erosion. A Burford bagging machine is perfect for bagging sliced loaves of Farm to Market breads, which are always hand loaded into Revent rack ovens and their four-deck Bongard deck oven.

  “Our biggest growth is in sliced breads,” Friend said. Addressing the challenge that high-hydration doughs often lose their form as they move through the lines, Friend explains that their doughs cannot be too wet to serve the higher purpose of great flavor and consistent quality.

“There is definitely a balance,” he said. “Mom wants to make a PB&J without the jelly falling out of the middle.”

What is whole grain?

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines whole grain foods as foods containing 50% or more (by weight) of the grain- or flour-containing component as whole grain ingredients. Under that definition, the mean intake increased to .81 oz from .5 oz. The definition from the Cereal & Grains Association states that a whole grain food must contain at least 50% whole grain ingredients based on dry weight. The mean intake increased to .73 oz from .51 oz under that definition.

Growth in grains

The 2022 IFIC Food and Health Survey demonstrates strong and consistent interest in whole grains. This year, the survey found that of people who seek these particular health benefits, 53% report that they consume whole grains to improve cardiovascular health, 42% report that they consume whole grains to lose weight, 35% report that they consume whole grains to improve digestive/gut health, 34% report that they consume whole grains to improve immune function, and 33% report that they consume whole grains to improve energy/reduce fatigue.

One study that was published in November 2022 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an increase in whole grain food intake over 15 years, but the level of the increase depended on the definition of a whole grain food.

In the AJCN study, researchers from the Boston-based Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University found whole grain intake in the United States increased 39.5% to 61.5%, depending on which whole grain food definition was used. No matter the definition, the US mean consumption of whole grain foods per person remained below the recommended daily consumption of at least 3 oz.

The study followed whole grain intake based on definitions from the American Heart Association, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Cereals & Grains Association (formerly known as AACC International).

The greatest increase in whole grain intake, 61.5%, came under the whole grain food definition from the American Heart Association, Dallas, which states that whole grain foods are whole grain-rich foods having more than 1.1 grams of fiber or more per 10 grams of carbohydrates. Under that definition, the mean daily whole grain intake increased to 1.05 oz from .65 oz.

Sprouted whole wheat loaf

Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery, a leading producer of wholesome, plant-based bakery products made with sprouted whole grains, is introducing its latest innovation, Omegamazing™. The all-new sprouted whole wheat loaf is made with whole and ground flax and chia seeds, offering both a delicious and hearty crunch as well as a better-for-you nutrition profile, including 400 milligrams of Omega-3 ALAs per slice. Each slice of Omegamazing also offers 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.

Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to impact brain, eye and heart health as well as reduce inflammation, and flax and chia seeds are excellent plant-based sources. Many other foods that offer Omega-3 aren’t commonly consumed in the Western diet, which can make it a challenge for many consumers to meet their daily needs of the essential nutrient.

“Our customers are looking for better-for-you bread options that are nutrient-rich but don’t sacrifice on flavor, and we’re thrilled to introduce our new Omegamazing offering, which does just that,” said Jodie Douglas, senior marketing director at Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery. “Omegamazing brings a delicious new option rich in Omega-3 ALA to the bread aisle and is the perfect heart-healthy base for sandwiches and snacks.”

“Omega-3s are an essential part of our diet, and flaxseeds and chia seeds are two of the best dietary sources of these excellent nutrients,” said Desiree Nielsen, registered dietitian and Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery ambassador. “The new Omegamazing from Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery is a tasty and convenient way to add more Omega-3s to your daily diet.”

In addition to its nutrient-dense ingredient list, Omegamazing is Certified Vegan and Glyphosate Free, Kosher, Non-GMO Verified, and peanut and nut free.

Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery recently debuted a reimagined brand image and full product packaging redesign for its lineup of breads, bagels, and buns. The redesigned packaging was inspired by the brand’s longtime mission to inspire healthier living through healthier choices and now allows consumers to easily spot the outstanding nutritional values for the nutrients they care about most.

The new design boasts an eye-catching clear window so consumers can easily see the color, texture, and the wholesome grains in every Silver Hills Sprouted Bakery product. Omegamazing is the first new product to be introduced in the new brand image.

Brioche is booming

Brioche buns provide retailers and foodservice operations with a unique sandwich carrier that is enticing consumers to buy and consume more sandwiches. St Pierre Bakery has announced new, branded distribution with Walmart. The St Pierre brand, which has grown rapidly over the past three years and maintains its position as category leader in the brioche sector secured space on shelf with the retailer for three of its core product lines. St Pierre Sliced Brioche Loaf variants have launched into 2,220 Walmart stores. St Pierre Brioche Waffles with Butter (6 pack) are now available in more than 4,000 stores.

 “This is fantastic news for the brand and the result of a collaborative relationship we have built with Walmart, creating a sound strategy and a lot of shared insight. The St Pierre range offers authentic, high quality and consistent products that meet customer’s needs in a growing category and offer something different. What’s more, our fill rates are unrivalled – and that is crucial in the current climate,” said David Wagstaff, managing director, St Pierre Bakery.

The St Pierre brand is predominantly situated in the in-store bakery but distribution through Walmart will see the loaves merchandized, for the first time, in the commercial bread aisle. The brand is also investing in marketing to support the launch and drive national sales.

Wagstaff continues, “Premiumization is a trend borne of the pandemic but it’s still gaining momentum and it’s here to stay.”

Plant-based options

La Brea Bakery, North American’s No. 1 artisan bread bakers, introduces a re-imagined brioche bun to the foodservice and restaurant industry. After a brief production hiatus, the La Brea Bakery Brioche Bun returns as a delicious plant-based bread that embodies the same hallmark buttery flavor and tender crumb of a traditional brioche.

Crafted with high quality ingredients that elevate the dining experience, the La Brea Bakery Brioche Bun has the same rich, mildly sweet flavor as the brand’s original brioche, and is hearty enough to hold up to the juiciest sandwich builds. Jonathan Davis, La Brea Bakery’s culinary innovation lead, created inspiring recipes for foodservice operators, with the thaw and serve bread that include the La Brea Bakery Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and the La Brea Bakery Folded Omelet Sandwich.

“La Brea Bakery’s research and development expertise and capabilities enable us to deliver operational solutions like this plant-based brioche bun, while never compromising taste and our artisan promise.” said Chris Prociv, chief commercial officer - retail, Aspire Bakeries (parent company of La Brea Bakery). “We also partner with foodservice and restaurant operators to provide customized solutions that meet their specific needs and build their competitive advantage.”

The La Brea Bakery Brioche Bun joins a lineup of primarily plant-based breads produced by the company, which is dedicated to following artisan traditions. The bread is currently available to foodservice and restaurant operators nationwide.