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    Natural Products Expo East: Flour Power

    Ancient grains making major gains among new natural and organic products

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Walking the show floor on the second day of Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore revealed more new products, but the roots of many of them date back centuries.

    Ancient grains – such as amaranth, millet, teff and, yes, quinoa – are dominating snacks, breads and baking mixes. Amid the crush of gluten-free products, they’re leaving poor old wheat in the dust.

    Nut and other non-grain flours are selling well, according to Matthew Cox, VP of marketing for Milwaukie, Ore.-based Bob’s Red Mill, noting that his company’s highest volume product at the moment is flaxseed meal.

    In fact, non-quinoa ancient grains have grown threefold in the past year, Cox (pictured above) said during a discussion at the Bob’s Red Mill booth, where mock store displays showed the dozens of varieties offered by the milling company. Bob’s “Grains of Discovery” line features chia, millet and teff, as well as quinoa. In addition, the company sampled incredibly delicious chocolate chip cookies made with its new Gluten Free Baking Flour, a blend of white and brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca that can be directly substituted in recipes for wheat flour. The excellent cookies were also studded with variety of nuts and seeds that gave them wonderful taste and texture, along with sustained tooth-picking fun.

    Eugene, Ore.-based Attune Foods, recently acquired by Post, displayed protein-enhanced granola made with Kamut wheat and hemp seeds, offered alone and with flakes as a boxed cereal. Attune’s Rob Goluba says the company is focusing on protein from sources other than dairy or soy.

    Sold under the Erehwon, Sweet Home Farm, Peace Cereal, Uncle Sam, Golden Temple and Willamette Valley brands, Attune’s products are all non-GMO; many are organic as well.

    Elsewhere on the Floor

    My travels around the show floor on Friday included these stops:

    Good2Grow: The company, known for its kids juices and collectible licensed character bottle toppers, is launching Juicy Waters, aimed at bridging the gap between existing flavored water beverage and heavily sweetened juice drinks.

    “Moms looking at juice boxes see calories and artificial ingredients,” Good2Grow’s Carl Sweat said. “We have the taste but we also kept it pure.” The organic product provides hydration and flavor at 30 calories per 8-ounce serving.

    The company also debuted its Disney “Frozen” bottle toppers. Sweat revealed deals in the works to license Dreamworx characters from “Shrek,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Kung Fu Panda”; Peanuts characters; Care Bears; and characters from the upcoming “Star Wars” animated series from Lucasfilms.

    La Croix: The Florida-based sparkling water company has added a third flavor to its Curate line – Pina Fraise, or pineapple strawberry. I found this unique blend, not yet available in stores, to be light and refreshing. La Croix’s Nicole Cheifetz said a fourth flavor is in the works.

    Tommy’s Superfoods: This Austin, Texas-based company offers frozen steam-in-bag vegetable blends in six SKUs. The non-GMO preseasoned veggies are made with extra virgin olive oil; the varieties include quinoa and other “superfood” ingredients. The company’s Justin Yeager says Tommy’s is “trying to innovate an outdated set” in the grocer’s freezer case.

    Jane’s Dough Foods: Gluten-free pizzas in 6½- and 10-inch sizes are available under the Sonoma Flatbreads by Donatos label. These tasty, crispy pizzas come in Uncured Pepperoni, Four Cheese, Vegetable and Chicken & Fire Roasted Peppers.

    Duke’s Meats: This craft jerky and smoked meat snack brand from Thanasi Foods displayed several delicious and bold flavors from its 11-SKU line. Jerky sales are soaring; company president Justin Havlick said the category is experiencing a "resurgence like we've never seen before."

    My favorite Duke's product? The Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket. But really, they’re all fantastic. Love the shorty sausages, too. The all-natural snacks are made in small batches with no artificial ingredients.

    Follow me on Twitter @jimdudlicek

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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