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ConAgra MillsŪ Introduces Two New Flour Innovations

Taking cues from growing trends in gluten-free eating and consumers' desire for more authentic, ethnic flavors, ConAgra Mills introduced two new flours at the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Anaheim, Calif., in June.

Gluten-Free Foods That Look and Taste Like Wheat Products
Leveraging its portfolio of naturally gluten-free Ancient Grains, ConAgra Mills has developed a gluten-free, all-purpose multigrain flour under its Eagle MillsŪ brand.

The gluten-free market has seen an explosion of growth over the past several years, with sales of gluten-free food and beverages expected to reach $2.6 billion in 2012, up from $580 million in 2004. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) reported that roughly 15 million Americans are seeking gluten-free foods to cope with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities.

ConAgra Mills' new flour represents a nutritional and quality breakthrough for manufacturers of gluten-free products, many of which lack fiber, B vitamins and other important nutrients.

Eagle Mills All-Purpose Multigrain flour is an all-natural whole-grain blend of ConAgra Mills' Ancient Grains flours — amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff — as well as brown rice and tapioca starch. The gluten-free flour contains five of the six grains dubbed the "super six," by Melinda Dennis, nutrition coordinator at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Celiac Center, for their high vitamin and fiber content. The proprietary blend was formulated to achieve optimal texture, flavor, appearance and functionality in a variety of popular, grain-based foods.

Tasting What Matters
In addition to getting high marks for nutrition, the new Eagle Mills flour gives commercial bakers, food manufacturers and foodservice operators the ability to create gluten-free foods that look and taste great, a welcome relief for gluten-free consumers.

A March 2009 survey conducted by GIG and revealed that gluten-free shoppers are dissatisfied with the quality of gluten-free food available in retail stores, citing 71 percent of respondents agreeing that good-tasting, gluten-free foods are hard to find, with 79 percent admitting they've wasted a lot of money on gluten-free foods that didn't taste good.

Focus groups conducted by ConAgra Mills in June 2009 pitted the top two selling gluten-free breads against bread made with the new Eagle Mills gluten-free flour. The bread made with the new Eagle Mills flour was the hands-down favorite in flavor, texture and appearance — a "milestone" for gluten-free consumers, said Mike Veal, vice president of Marketing.

"The new Eagle Mills gluten-free flour is truly a breakthrough for the gluten-free market in taste and nutrition," he said. "Its versatility can be leveraged across a range of products, such as bread, tortillas, muffins, cereals, cookies, snacks and pasta. The new formula optimizes the unique properties of each of the Ancient Grains to deliver exceptional flavor, texture and baking performance. Developing the formula was no easy task."

Getting Real With Indian Flatbreads
ConAgra Mills also unveiled Mumbai Gold™ Fresh Chakki Atta at the IFT show. This all-natural flour is made with specially selected durum wheat, milled to match traditional Indian specifications for taste, texture and functionality in a variety of flatbreads.

Growing interest in authentic, ethnic food is bringing flatbreads to mainstream menus, bakeries and grocery products. Restaurants of all types are seeing a surge of interest in flatbread menu choices, and the number of new flatbread products introduced in retail stores grew from five in 2005 to 26 in 2008.

Veal pointed out that most of the current flatbread offerings in retail stores aren't made with traditional Indian flour and lack the authenticity that can be achieved using the new Mumbai Gold Fresh Chakki Atta.

"Mumbai Gold Fresh Chakki Atta will help food manufacturers make the next wave of Indian flatbreads more authentic and better tasting on a national scale," he said.

The next step for the Mills team is to continue building industry awareness of its two new breakthrough flours and supporting manufacturers in the development of new products.

Sources: Packaged Facts, "The Gluten-Free Food and Beverage Market: Trends and Developments Worldwide, 2nd Edition," April 2009;

updated April 2010

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