Don’t miss out on the trend of alternative grains and flours in bread and patisserie

Elevate consumer experience with varied textures and flavors (and a hint of healthy)

16 Jun 2023

Trend Updates

For people with a gluten intolerance, almond flour, teff and rice flour aren’t new or innovative. They have been snacking on buns and cookies made from alternative grains and flours for quite a while. 

But recently health-conscious individuals got interested in these ingredients too, skyrocketing the demand for these gluten alternatives. Dive in and explore the possibilities of these flours for bakery and patisserie.

Healthy & tasty power ingredients

Our worldwide Taste Tomorrow consumer survey already showed the potential of grains and seeds for the bakery industry. 79% of consumers globally heralded grains and seeds as power ingredients, stating they were a top contributor to both taste and health aspects of bread. In some EU countries such as Spain, Portugal and Poland, the taste perception of grains and seeds goes beyond 9 out of 10 consumers. For those who have tried nut flours or bakes from barley, this comes as no surprise. These alternative flours and grains not only cater to dietary needs but also offer a plethora of flavors and textures.

Top trending special flours and grains

  • Teff is a gluten-free Ethiopian super grain. Don’t let the tiny size of this ancient grain deceive you, it is a true nutritional powerhouse and packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and prebiotics.

  • Millet has a smaller carbon footprint and uses less water than other crops, leading The United Nations General Assembly to declare 2023 the International Year of Millets.

  • Highland barley has recently gained traction, for instance as a biscuit ingredient. This flour has rich dietary fiber and various nutrients.

  • Almond flour is the most popular variety of nut flour, and is especially interesting for patisserie.

  • Fava flour is high in protein, high in fiber and low in fat, and the crop is both low-maintenance and sustainable.

  • Okara powder is a popular wheat substitute. It is particularly rich in dietary fiber, which is thought to be effective in improving gut health.

  • Lupin flour has economic, environmental and health benefits. Did you know it has three times the protein of oats?


Beyond ‘Free From’  

A lot of the ‘new’ and trendy grains and flours could until recently only be found on the dedicated gluten-free shelves. But the hype of products following the ‘free from’ philosophy has opened up more mainstream possibilities for these bakery ingredients. These ‘free from’ products avoid preservatives, eliminate dairy or animal products and prioritize ‘real’ ingredients. The new grains and flours – such as teff, legume flour or millet – have an air of authenticity, which makes them a perfect match for these types of special dietary baked goods. A lot of grains are even promoted as ‘ancient grains’. 

Before, gluten-free and ‘free from’ products often sought out alternative grains that replicated the taste and texture of wheat, but now the unique properties of these alternative ingredients are desired and celebrated. The varied textures and flavors make for elevated consumption experiences. For health-conscious consumers, the nutritional value is a huge draw for alternative flours too. 


Application around the world

Our Always-On online AI research shows that alternative grains and flours are most popular in the Italian, Portuguese, Russian languages. English, Spanish, German, French, and Japanese are second-tier languages for this trend. In Russia, rice flour is often chosen for (gluten-free) bread, since it creates a wonderfully soft and fluffy texture. It is also popular among home bakers to create a Kinder milk slice, a healthy dessert for children. The classic Northern Italian baci di dama cookies – which can be translated as lady's kisses – are made with almond or hazelnut flour for the added nutty taste. Chinese-speaking consumers are very aware of the functions and nutritional characteristics of flours and grains. They choose specific subcategories of wheat replacements by the health benefits, such as weight loss, digestion, anti-inflammation and glycemic control. Coconut flour is very popular there.

Embracing alternative flours yourself

Innovation plays a crucial role in the reach of alternative flours. Keto-friendly and gluten-free offerings have helped democratize these ingredients in the bakery and patisserie category, providing options for those with specific dietary goals. Now, the unique properties of alternative flours can be used to appeal to new, mainstream audiences. Offer them new and exciting culinary experiences, and be sure to highlight the functional benefits of these ingredients too.

graindesign toppings

Do you want your baked goods with alternative grains and flours to look extra appealing? The new and innovative Graindesign toppings by Puratos offer a healthy and tasty look, additional taste and a new texture experience. The décors consist of ingredients such as toasted melon seeds, red quinoa and white rice flakes.