Prepared Foods August 16, 2004 enewsletter

ConAgra Food Ingredients is introducing a new whole-grain flour -- Ultragrain White Whole Wheat -- that purportedly allows consumers to enjoy the freshness, sweeter taste and smooth texture available from refined flour products in 100% whole-wheat products. To be unveiled at the International Baking Industry Expo in Las Vegas, the breakthrough ingredient combines the nutritional benefits of whole grains with the taste, texture and finished baked qualities of refined flour.

While many consumers recognize the benefits of whole grains, the taste and texture of whole grains keep them from embracing these types of foods, attests ConAgra. According to a recent Gallup poll, a majority of mothers surveyed said their kids preferred white bread to whole-wheat or wheat bread.

"Ultragrain provides the food industry and its customers with the first whole-grain flour that combines preferred taste and texture with nutrition," said Greg Heckman, president and chief operating officer, ConAgra Food Ingredients. "It's not enough to provide just a nutritious product, you have to provide a product that consumers love to eat. Ultragrain delivers the best of both worlds."

A patent-pending milling technique of ConAgra Food Ingredients and special flour milling equipment retain whole-grain nutrients, while at the same time delivering the fine texture of popular white flours, the company says. Ultragrain has a lighter flour color, a softer, smoother texture, ConAgra notes, and a reduced visibility of bran specks, often noticed in other whole-wheat flours.

"This is the first time, a sweeter, milder whole-grain wheat has been ground to the consistency of white flours," said Heckman. "Ultragrain is an ideal ingredient for a number of different foods that generally use refined flour -- from breads and bagels to pasta and pizza dough and even pastries. Ultragrain provides whole-grain nutrition without changing the texture or sacrificing the taste of the foods."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends consumption of six to 11 servings per day of grain products, several of which should be from whole grains. However, according to recent studies, only 7% of the population eats three servings of whole grains daily. Research shows that, in addition to protecting against cardiovascular disease, whole-grain foods may help reduce the risk of colon cancer and diabetes.

Furthermore, according to ConAgra, Ultragrain offers all the nutritional advantages of whole-grain flours, including increased phytonutrients and four to five times the levels of potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, B vitamins (niacin and thiamine) and fiber found in refined flour.