It turns out wheat flour can play the value-added game as well. While much innovation in recent years has come from flour based on ancient grains or pulses, certain wheat flours now offer specific benefits, too. They include higher levels of fiber, domestic sources of Neapolitan-style pizza crust flour and food safety technology.

Rising fiber levels

Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Massachusetts, US, and Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., Davis, California, US, are leaders in increasing supply of high-fiber wheat flour. Under an agreement reached in August 2019, Bay State Milling, through its HealthSense brand portfolio, became the exclusive commercial partner in North America for high fiber wheat from Arcadia Biosciences.

Derived from high-amylose wheat, HealthSense high fiber wheat flour is more than 25% dietary fiber, which is up to 10 times more dietary fiber than traditional wheat flour. It is milled from specific varieties of wheat that are bred to increase the amount of amylose, a starch that resists digestion and acts as dietary fiber. HealthSense performs similarly to conventional wheat flour in most baking applications, said Colleen Zammer, senior director of R&D for Bay State Milling.

“The main difference formulators will experience when using HealthSense flour is that it absorbs more water than conventional wheat flour,” she said. “Therefore, the liquids used in their formulation should be increased accordingly. Formulators can choose how much conventional wheat flour to replace with HealthSense based on their fiber delivery goals, and that will influence the absorption and how much additional liquid to use.”

Depending on the inclusion rate, it’s possible to achieve claims of good source or excellent source of fiber in food products.

“In addition to increasing fiber levels, which in turn can also reduce net carbs since the resistant starch found in HealthSense is not absorbed by the body, manufacturers may also be able to simplify and clean up their labels if they had previously been using additives to reach certain fiber targets,” Zammer said. “HealthSense can achieve higher fiber levels through a single whole food source, using just one ingredient: wheat.”

Bay State Milling is seeing customer interest in HealthSense in categories like tortillas, pasta, bread, baking mixes and specialty flours, said Matthew Jacobs, director of strategic marketing.

“While the specific objectives for using a high fiber flour differ — whether reducing carbs, achieving fiber claims, touting prebiotics or creating keto-friendly products — nearly all manufacturers are drawn to HealthSense for the ability to improve the overall health profile of their products without giving up crucial sensory attributes that make them popular,” he said. “The versatility of HealthSense makes it a good solution across various applications. Moreover, operators will appreciate the performance of the flour in high volume manufacturing.”

Cereal and breakfast biscuits, two categories that rely on whole grains, have yet to gravitate toward using HealthSense flour, Jacobs said.

“Bay State Milling has recently conducted consumer research that shows a high willingness to purchase these kinds of foods if there were high-fiber versions available,” he said. “In fact, the research found that approximately 9 in 10 consumers are interested both in buying products made with high fiber flour and replacing the flour they typically use with a high fiber flour.

“Moreover, we believe there is considerable opportunity to increase fiber consumption during the breakfast daypart, a typically carb-driven meal. Our research found that there was strong interest not only in high fiber bread but also pancakes and waffles.”

More evidence of fiber’s popularity exists. The International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2020 Food and Health Survey found more than 80% of respondents said they considered fiber to be healthy.

In other markets besides North America, Arcadia Biosciences offers its high fiber wheat under its GoodWheat portfolio of specialty wheat ingredients, including one with up to 10 times the dietary fiber of traditional wheat. Besides high fiber content, other attributes in the portfolio are ingredients with nearly 30% fewer calories per serving than traditional wheat and ingredients that contain 65% less allergenic gluten.

Arcadia Biosciences in August of this year made two moves, one domestic and the other in Europe, to expand its GoodWheat portfolio.

The company formed a strategic business venture with Three Farm Daughters LLP, a majority female-owned consumer food company based in North Dakota, to develop and market food products using Arcadia’s patented GoodWheat technology. The two companies will work together to develop food products such as flours, pasta and crackers under the Three Farm Daughters brand. The products will be sold in grocery stores, on Amazon and through the website.

“At Three Farm Daughters, we are passionate about healthful food and uncompromising when it comes to quality, taste and performance,” said Mollie Ficocello, president and co-founder of Three Farm Daughters, at the time of the announcement. “Our family has proudly grown GoodWheat wheat varieties for years, and we know first-hand the difference healthier, quality ingredients make in our diets and lifestyles. And now, we are thrilled to bring our products to the market and help consumers take the guesswork out of healthy eating with our Three Farm Daughters brand.”

Arcadia Biosciences in August also announced a collaboration with GoodMills Innovation, an affiliate of European milling company GoodMills Group, for the commercialization of wheat with improved nutritional value across Europe.

“GoodMills is an excellent partner with a strong focus on innovation,” said Matthew Plavan, president and chief executive officer of Arcadia Biosciences, at the time of the announcement. “Together we aim to introduce uniquely healthy products for the retail, consumer and foodservice sectors in Europe, beginning in 2020.”

Michael Gusko, head of innovation at GoodMills, added, “GoodMills Innovation is recognized as one of the world’s leading innovators in the area of grain-based ingredients that are both highly functional and nutritional. Recent market research highlights accelerated key consumer trends in 2020, including health and immunity enhancement, natural authentic cooking and sustainable plant protein. We see tremendous potential in Arcadia’s portfolio of specialty wheats to help us meet these trends.”

GoodMills Group GmbH, a holding company, manages seven country organizations and a total of 25 flour mills. The company annually processes 2.9 million tonnes of grain.

Matching Italy's 00 flour

Europe, specifically Italy, is known for flour used in crust for Neapolitan-style pizza. Grades of flour in Italy range from 00, 0, 1 and 2, said Bart Bender, technical service manager for Ardent Mills, Denver, Colorado, US. A finely ground flour, 00 is used for pasta and pizza dough.

“It’s the most refined and has the lowest level of bran,” Bender said. “It creates a dough that is silkier and maintains chewiness.”

In contrast, the US grading system categorizes flours by how much protein they contain, which affects gluten formation.

“Hence, there is no direct analogy to US flour grades,” Bender said.

How the flour hydrates and the smoothness are major factors in Neapolitan-style pizza.

“Not all 00 or 0 are optimal for creating Neapolitan-style pizza,” Bender said. “Overall, the right balance of fine grind and amount of gluten in the flour creates the texture, elasticity, chewiness and crisp bite that we love about Neapolitan-style pizza.”

Ardent Mills’ Primo Mulino Neapolitan-Style Pizza Flour compares well to leading 00 pizza flours in performance and is ideal for high-temperature ovens, especially wood, gas and coal-fired ovens that have become the mainstay of many artisan pizzerias, Bender said.

“Primo Mulino flour creates a soft, supple dough and offers great mixing tolerance, excellent water absorption, and works well with long fermentation,” he said “Primo Mulino is more cost effective — It provides the same crispy, soft and subtle dough as Italian style 00 flour, but without the imported flour price.”

Grain Craft LLC, Chattanooga, Tennessee, US, offers a Neapolitan Italian-style pizzeria flour featuring a finely ground wheat grown in the Rocky Mountain Foothills of Idaho, an area with a combination of high altitude, volcanic soils and growing conditions similar to the agricultural regions of Italy. The 00 type flour produces a light dough with dependable extensibility, according to Grain Craft.

More innovation to come

Grain Craft is taking innovative steps in wheat flour in other ways, too.

The company is expanding a pilot program in Kansas and throughout the Southwest that seeks to find segregated, preferred varieties of hard red winter wheat that replace high-priced spring wheat. Recently spring wheat prices have been about 80¢ a bu higher than hard winter prices.

Grain Craft opened a Grain Craft Lab at the Kansas Wheat Commission’s Kansas Wheat Innovation Center in Manhattan, Kansas, US. The lab will help Grain Craft improve wheat quality and explore innovation opportunities. It will feature analytical, milling, rheological and application capabilities.

“Our goal as a leading flour miller is to set the stage for a strong future for our breeders, growers and customer partners,” said Nick Weigel, vice president of quality, regulatory and technical services for Grain Craft. “This investment uniquely positions Grain Craft to develop synergies that support our strategic wheat quality objectives. Through this work, we also hope to advance outcomes that contribute to the betterment of the industry overall.”

Making cookie dough safe again

A food safety issue cropped up in 2016 when people became ill after eating raw cookie dough. Heat-treated flour became a solution to the problem.

“Siemer HT Flour is treated for not only low micro results for products like edible cookie dough or spice blends but also functional flours as well such as replacing a chemically modified corn starch in a soup, sauce or gravy application, and improving coating systems with consistent batter viscosity, all of which represent a clean label ingredient declaration,” said Aaron Wolff, account executive for Siemer Specialty Ingredients, Teutopolis, Illinois, US.

The HT system uses a flexible combination of heat, steam, holding time and moisture control to achieve desirable heat penetration, which ensures the 5-log reduction of pathogen in the flour, he said. The system is validated. Micro results are obtained and approved prior to any shipment.

“Using our HT system we are able to replace chlorination for a natural cake flour, extend shelf life for our co-products such as bran, germ and whole wheat flours,” Wolff said.

Ardent Mills offers a Safeguard treatment and delivery system for flour.

“Our Safeguard line of flours are the only functional flours on the market with up to a 5-log validated pathogen reduction that can be customized based on specific product requirements,” Bender said. “The full line is intended to help reduce food safety risks while maintaining the flavor, texture, appearance and performance production teams and consumers expect.”