Quinoa Puts Down North American Roots

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Quinoa Puts Down North American Roots

By Kathy Hayden - 09/07/2017

Just a few years ago, quinoa was a hard-to-pronounce health food ingredient from South America with a narrow audience. As the high-protein grain gains wider acceptance, however, more companies have made commitments to find the high, dry and cool conditions required to grow quinoa in North America.

North Americans now consume more than half the global production of quinoa, reported Nutritional Outlook, which means demand could easily outpace supplies. Zachery Sanders, marketing director for Denver-based Ardent Mills, says from 2012 to 2016, sales of products containing quinoa grew more than 700 percent and reached half a billion dollars, according to Nielsen data. Meanwhile, Innova Market Insights reports that new product launches containing quinoa continue to grow every year, surging 55 percent from 2013 to 2014 alone.

At this point, quinoa’s popularity seems a given, but in a crowded market, manufacturers will continue to look for new supply channels, noted Nutritional Outlook. Large-scale “grains manufacturers like Ardent Mills (Denver) are finding new growing solutions to ensure price predictability and keep up with the persistent demand,” according to Nutritional Outlook. “Earlier this year, Ardent Mills introduced what it says is ‘the first major, scalable quinoa grown in North America.’ Ardent Mills Great Plains Quinoa is the product of a partnership between the flour-milling company and family farmers like Joe Dutcheshen, who has been evaluating different varieties of South American quinoa seeds on his farm for the past 25 years.”

Because seeing is believing, Ardent Mills recently brought a small group of potential buyers and media members to quinoa growing fields. The hundreds of acres of crops confirmed that the North American grown quinoa was indeed ready for the big time.

“Four years ago, I needed my wife’s help saying ‘quinoa,’ but now I’m surrounded by it, and I’ve learned a lot. It’s already a successful crop for me,” grower Courtney Swystun told the group.

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • Tri-colored quinoa pilaf to show off different varieties
  • Quinoa in store-made porridge for heartier breakfast options
  • Dressed, cooled quinoa at the salad bar

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