Ingredients supplier and manufacturer Edme is ramping up sales of its new Wholesoft concept in a bid to counteract declining sales of bread and bakery products and appeal to millennial consumers.

According to the company, the Wholesoft brand, based on sprouted grains, brings a softer texture to breads, but retains inherent health benefits associated with what is viewed increasingly as a superfood ingredient.

Speaking to British Baker, Edme sales director Mike Carr explained that sprouted wholegrain had received lots of attention in the US market, with health benefits including improved digestibility, absorption of nutrients, such as calcium, iron and zinc and increased anti-oxidants.

However, he said there was a misunderstanding in the UK of the difference between malting and sprouting, where both grains were soaked and germinated, but then kilned (in the malting version) whereas the sprouted grains were pasteurised, which stopped the sprouting and gave the grain a 12-month ambient stable life.

The company is selling the grains in vacuum packs that can just be torn open and the grains used directly in the particular application without further soaking or processing.

The company is hoping that the grains will help to increase the usage and appeal of wholegrain products in the UK. Pointing to the current obesity epidemic in the UK and figures from the Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition’s Carbohydrate & Health Report, UK adults consume on average 20g of fibre a day, 33% less than the 30g recommended. Other research by Newcastle University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, revealed that 20% of the population ate no wholegrains at all.

However, further research from Mintel has indicated that 43% of adults seek to buy food containing wholegrains and 34% if parents look to buy snacks containing wholegrains for their children.

“The downside to this is the taste and texture [of many wholegrains],” added Carr. “Bakers add fats to increase the softness and shelf-life of the breads.” But then this clearly detracts from the “healthy” content of the bread, he noted.

“The challenge is to increase the usage and appeal of wholegrains, not just as decoration,” said Carr.

Edme is also looking to promote the use of sprouted wholegrains beyond the bakery market to salad, pies, sushi and even desserts.

In August this year Edme revealed how it was bringing ancient grain naked barley back to the UK market.