When it comes to carbohydrates, it’s the quality—not quantity—that matters most. With consumers taking a more holistic approach to their healthy dining habits, carbs are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Consumers around the world have given carbs a second chance as comfort food came back into favor during the height of the pandemic.
In foodservice, experimentation has given rise to artisan breads and pastas made in-house. A vegan, refined-sugar-free bakery in UAE creates almond flour pastries and breads full of ancient grains and seeds, including millet, teff, sorghum, flax and amaranth. Traditional culinary techniques have been modernized in Hong Kong, where a small shop bakes up crispy fermented soybean sesame biscuits. And a plant-based café in Spain serves twists on traditional recipes, such as a buckwheat risotto with pumpkin cream and roasted eggplant, and raw veggie noodles topped with tomato-cashew cream sauce and spiced almonds.
Sustainability and health come into play for the carb-focused snack category, with popcorn-like water lily seed snacks and air-popped quinoa chips delivering satisfying yet light flavor. “Activated” crisps in the UK are made with sprouted sorghum that has been soaked to allow for better nutrient digestion—a more functional approach to a classic snack. And in Chile, sustainable lupine bean flour enhances “superfood” energy bars and cookies made with natural sweeteners.
The carb resurgence aligns with the protein category, too, as items like filled pastas and batters put a more wholesome spin on product development. Plant-based sausage ravioli made with gluten-free rice flour can be found on US retail shelves. From high-protein, high-fiber Saudi Arabian chickpea flour to a Canadian company producing allergen-free fried chicken mix and tempura batter with konjac root powder, tapioca starch and psyllium husk—alternative flours put a more wholesome spin on traditional coatings.
Looking to fuel innovation across menus and product categories? Consider clean label, unrefined and “whole food” carbs.
3 Trends to Watch
Advances in sugar reduction technology will encourage wholesome product innovation with minimal compromise to taste.
Brands will experiment with pre-, pro- and postbiotics in product formulations to allow for health claims such as gut health and immunity.
On-trend ancient grains and seeds will be incorporated into carb-heavy menu offerings, such as pre-made pizza dough and pasta, to add wholesomeness and health credentials.
Thinking Beyond Classic Carbs
Ingredients like legumes, pulses and ancient grains give chefs and product developers the chance to approach carbs from a fresh perspective. Join Chef Jonny Tomlin as he creates a unique Ethiopian Sweet Potato Tempura with Toasted Salt and Berbere Dip, using teff flour as the foundation for a light and airy batter.
Operators are shining the spotlight on fermentation, creating sourdough breads that have fermented for 48 hours or using fermented butter in biscuits. They’re also utilizing ancient grains to provide healthier, higher quality baked goods.
Sprouted grains and pulses are being utilized to boost protein content across a range of products. Vegetables are also being incorporated into formulations to deliver wholesome “cues” and communicate functional benefits.
Puffed and popped sorghum, chia and flax are adding unique texture to CPG snacks. Bakery and snack brands are also leaning into prebiotic fiber product claims to promote overall gut health.
Get inspired by these on-trend concepts to create innovative offerings using products from Griffith Foods.
Ethiopian Sweet Potato Tempura with Toasted Salt and Berbere Dip
Sweet potato slices dredged in teff-based tempura batter inspired by injera, the signature spongy fermented flatbread of Ethiopian cuisine. Deep-fried until crisp and served with a smoky toasted salt and berbere spice dip.
Featuring: Griffith Foods Injera Teff Tempura Batter, Griffith Foods Toasted Salt, Griffith Foods Berbere Rub
Crispy Salmon Skin Chicharrones
An extruded snack made from dried salmon skins puréed with green banana powder and water. Deep-fried until puffed and perfectly crispy, dusted with green chile and tomatillo salsa verde seasoning and a splash of lime for bright and bold flavor.
Featuring: NuBana™ Green Banana Powder Extruded Snack Blend, Griffith Foods Salsa Verde Snack Seasoning
“Explore the world of flours beyond traditional wheat-based white flour. For example, cassava flour or chickpea flour can deliver unique flavor while serving as gluten-free options with high protein content.”
–Chef Mark Serice, Vice President Global Culinary, Griffith Foods
Nutritional Spotlight: Carbohydrates
Along with fats and proteins, carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients found in our diets. They represent a significant proportion of the foods we consume and serve as a primary source of energy. But unlike their fellow macronutrients, carbohydrates are made of glucose—the preferred energy source for the brain and muscles. While carbohydrates are found in many forms and foods, the key is to focus on whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes that offer a variety of carbohydrate structures along with other beneficial nutrients. With these foods as the primary sources of carbohydrates, we receive not just energy but nutrient-dense options that support gut health, heart health, immune function and more. Upcycled, imperfect and sustainably produced carbohydrate sources are becoming increasingly available within the category as well, helping bring awareness not just to personal health but to the health of our planet.
–Jackie Schulz, MS, RDN, Director of Global Nutrition, Griffith Foods
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Source: Mintel, 2022 FlavorIQ® Global Trends and Insights Report, January 2022.