Survey finds the increasing popularity of ancient grains

25 October 20222 min reading

A recent survey conducted by Ardent Mills explored plant-based diet trends, understandings of alternative grains, and nutritional preferences when choosing ingredients. The results shed light on consumer dietary trends today and opportunities for future ancient grain industry growth.

Seeking out foods that are healthy or perceived as health has no boundaries. Consumers of all ages are actively seeking food options they perceive as healthy.

  • Consumers across every age range (80%+) report they are actively seeking healthy eating.
  • 47% of Americans say plant-based eating is important to dietary/eating goals.
  • A mix of factors drive overall dietary/food choices – including seeking specific ingredients/foods/nutrients, convenience and sustainability – but taste (98%) still matters most, with indulgence being of importance too (89%).

Awareness of what is or is not a grain is incomplete. While 96% of consumers identify wheat as a grain, awareness across other ancient grains is lacking.

  • Quinoa has the most prominent standing among ancient grains, yet still offers an opportunity to educate consumers further. Among those surveyed, quinoa was the grain most widely known and has the highest rate of favorable nutritional perceptions. Younger generations in particular have a higher familiarity with quinoa. Consumers aged 35-54 have the highest familiarity at 91%.
  • While 96% of consumers are familiar with chickpeas, only 17% of consumers accurately identify chickpea as a grain.
  • Of the ancient grains, consumers are least familiar with teff (13%) and white Sonora (15%), providing ample opportunity in the industry to educate the public.

Consumers are ‘hungry’ to learn more. Interest is strong for all aspects of ancient grains – especially the nutritional/functional benefits – and purchasing intent is high.

  • Consumers report wanting to learn more about most aspects of ancient grains, led by an interest in the nutritional and functional benefits.
  • Nearly 3/4 of consumers claim they are likely to eat more ancient grains over the next year.
  • Over half (61%) of Americans say they definitely or probably would purchase an item with ancient grains from a grocer. The highest interest lies with younger generations (18-34 reporting 65%, 35-52 reporting 64%).


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