While gluten-free interest continues to skyrocket, it hasn’t been a good 2016 for whole wheat. On November 1st, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA) published data that, for the third quarter in a row, whole wheat sales were on the decline. July to September was down 4.4% compared to last year’s same quarter.
Normally unpredictable whole wheat semolina production dropped 24%, marking an all-time low for whole wheat. Whole wheat boomed in the early 2000s, culminating in the 2010 announcement that whole wheat’s age old enemy, white bread, had finally fallen.
Meanwhile, whole grains are rapidly gaining attention – especially ancient grains like those used in Manini’s products (millett, amaranth, teff, and sorghum). There are a few major reasons for the big change in whole grain trends.
Gluten-Free Interest Fuels Whole Grain Sales
A big reason for the increase in whole grains sales over whole wheat is the increase in gluten-free products in restaurants and stores. A few facts about the rising gluten-free trend:
- 2.5% of U.S. households account for 68% of gluten-free product sales at grocery stores
- 47% of consumers think rice contains gluten; 34% think potatoes do.
- A 2015 Chef Survey ranked “gluten-free cuisine” as the 12th most popular food trend in the U.S.
- And yet 5% of people think that all carbohydrates contain gluten.
There’s clearly still some confusion about gluten and where it lives in grains. While Manini’s selects four ancient grains for their taste, texture, and nutrients, most grains are actually gluten-free, with exception to whole wheats.
Diners Have More Gluten-Free Options… And Are Asking for More!
A 2015 healthy restaurant survey from Mintel found that 30% of people would pay more for whole grain options on menus (1% more than are interested in non-GMO menu items). Gluten-free options are also a common request according to 22% of the study respondents.
Many restaurants (especially fine dining) are offering more gluten-free whole grain options simple for their taste and texture, a welcome movement for diners with a condition like celiac disease that could limit restaurant choices. In fact, Manini’s pastas, raviolis, buns, and rolls are widely featured on menus from fast food restaurants to white table cloth establishments, and many others use Manini’s flours in their recipes. You can check whether a restaurant near you uses Manini’s products on our store locator page.
There’s still room to grow, however – the same 2015 Mintel study found that almost half of all diners feel that it’s still too difficult to find healthy menu items at restaurants.
What This Means for The Food Industry
Frequent surveys remark on not just the improved flavor of ancient grains over whole wheat, but also the texture (which explains ancient grains’ increased presence on fine dining menus). Where whole grains are concerned, more focus on healthy food choices in grocery stores and restaurants is welcome news for gluten-free diners, and the food industry as a whole.