How do Consumers Define “Clean” When it Comes to Food Labels?

Clean-eating is here to stay. While a clean-eating diet spurs the growth of gluten-free, vegan and paleo diets, most consumers consider clean-eating as a lifestyle rather than a trend.

While there is no universal definition for clean-eating, it is commonly defined as a diet that includes whole foods that are closest to nature in their least-processed state. According to Registered Dietitian and Doctor of Public Health, Wendy Bazilian, clean-eating means ‘eating more wholesome, simpler and minimally-processed foods, and avoiding highly-processed foods’, (which have nutrient-rich ingredients replaced with undesirable ingredients).

Alternatives to grain-based flours coincide with clean-eating trends. Seeds, nuts and root vegetables are used to replace less-desirable ingredients. Varieties include:

  • Cassava
  • Root vegetables (jicama, sweet potatoes, parsnips)
  • Green banana flour
  • Coffee flours

According to survey results from global measurement and data analytics company, Label Insights, 68% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for foods and beverages that don’t contain ingredients they perceive as bad for them. Packaged goods are accepted as a part of consumers clean-eating lifestyle – they focus on the label, product messaging and transparency about the product ingredients and practices.


How do consumers define clean when it comes to food labels?

As consumers are more educated than ever, easy to read labels with simple ingredients are a driving factor for consumers with a clean-eating diet. Shoppers who follow a clean-eating lifestyle look for ingredients they recognize or would use when cooking at home, and labels typically include the ‘free-from’ claim. For example, products free from added artificial ingredients (such as colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners). Some clean-eating dedicated consumers focus on products labels that list few ingredients, using qualifiers including 10 ingredients or less.  According to data summarized from Nielsen and Label Insight, The USDA Certified Organic seal is often important for many consumers who follow a clean-eating diet, especially with packaged food. As education amongst consumers is always increasing, “clean-eaters” take the qualifications a step further and focus on the company’s transparency – such as certifications that validate the product’s purity, quality and nutritional profile remains intact during the production process.

Firebird Mills product selection and integrity of certifications

Clean-eating often eliminates refined grains or flour from the diet and includes whole grains only. Whole grains contain the bran and the germ, not just the endosperm. A few examples of whole grains include amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and teff. There is a rise in consumers experiencing ‘claim fatigue’ while shopping – according to Mintel US research, only 44% of consumers trust claims on food and beverage products and there is a general mistrust of vague claims such as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’. Consumers who follow clean-eating lifestyles focus on claims and certifications that prove worthy of their trust through verification. The AA BRC certified label on Firebird products qualifies Firebird against a rigorous audit for the global standard of food safety, auditing its quality management, the control process, site standards, and allergen control. This assessment ensures allergen and chemical contamination is tested annually. Other packaging requirements that are considered standard for all Firebird products include ‘Top 8 Allergen-Free’. Firebird products are mixed, milled and packaged on-site in a dedicated allergen-free and ICS Gluten-Free certified facility – this closed-loop system of mill to sealed package ensures zero-risk of cross-contamination amongst products or with gluten, protecting gluten-free customers who follow clean-eating lifestyles as well.

Firebird Mills natural treatment process standards ensure products remain clean. The Firebird team is dedicated to help gluten-free or allergen-free manufacturers produce the highest quality products.  

Want to learn more? Contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at







Ancient Grains Remain in Demand

Baking Business recently interviewed industry experts who reaffirmed what the Firebird Artisan Mills team has been saying for a long time: If you want to add functional nutrition, variety and versatility to your products, look no further than ancient grain ingredients.

Ancient grains are a group of grains, pseudograins and pseudocereals that have remained unchanged over the last several hundred years. Most of the ancient grains are gluten-free. Those include amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff.

What makes ancient grains an increasingly popular choice?

Ancient grain products, as a group, are higher in protein and fiber than their modern counterparts.

At seven to 16% protein, grains are a good source of protein for a wide variety of consumer products and baked goods.  High values of B-group vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and phosphorus are found in ancient grains. Plus, these novel ingredients offer a variety of interesting flavor profiles.

In a Packaged Facts survey, about a fifth of American adults say they’ve recently bought ancient grain items off a menu or grocery store shelf. These health-seeking consumers certainly impact the higher margin end of the CPG market. Package Facts also reports the salty snacks category (and other categories) accounts for 65% of gluten-free market share. Manufacturers are also incorporating ancient grains, pulses, and vegetables to add health benefits.

Highly nutritious and packed with flavor, it’s no wonder that ancient grains are in virtually every grocery category in the United States.

Often, once manufacturer research and development professionals gain an understanding of what each individual grain brings to the product, they can’t wait to try them in their own formulations. Read the report here, then bring us any questions you have. We’ve worked with ancient grains for over a decade and are always glad to talk with you about them.

To learn more about ancient grains and gluten-free customized blends, contact us today for a free consultation. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at


The Power of Pulses

Pulses continue to gain recognition as a food ingredient of the future.  Significant health, nutrition and sustainability benefits along with increasing consumer interest are certainly good motives for consumer packaged goods companies, bakeries and others to put pulses on their research and development roadmap. Not to mention, they’re also a versatile and affordable ingredient.   

What are Pulses?

Part of the legume family, pulses are the edible seed within the pod. Annual crops yield between one and 12 grains or seeds. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors. In addition, these low-fat healthy grains are packed with protein and fiber. According to the Global Pulse Confederation, one cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 16 grams of fiber.

Pulses come in several varieties. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognizes 11 types of pulses. Some of the most common types of pulses are beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas.

Popularity of Pulses

Nutritious and great for healthy cooking. In addition to high levels of protein and fiber, pulses have essential vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and folate. Not only are they good for you, but they are easy to cook with or utilize for product innovation – think everything from pasta and flour blends to snack bars and cereals.

Good for the environment and better economic stability. Pulse crops require less water, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil health, and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. They can improve cropping systems simply by converting nitrogen in the air into a plant available nutrient – a great way to reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizers.

Agricom International states, “Pulses create stronger food security, reduce price volatility, and create higher return to the world’s growers. They are a more affordable source of protein and will play a major role in meeting the food needs of the world’s growing population.”

Consumers want healthy alternatives. Consumers today are looking for protein varieties to reach their weight management, health and nutritional goals. Industry experts explain pulses can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and manage blood sugar levels. As more consumers increase their preference for vegetable-based proteins, so accelerates the protein enrichment trend. Therefore, pulses can be a logical and potentially cost-effective choice for protein alternatives.

In addition to the benefits already mentioned, pulses are suited for meeting the needs of allergen-sensitive consumers; an audience that continues to grow each year.  This is significant for rapidly growing categories such as healthy snacks. Pulses used in healthy snacks are free from common allergens and qualify for most whole and detox diets. With 8% growth in 2016, pulses are on track to join other mainstream healthy snacks.

Read more in this Baking Business article that highlights industry efforts around the functionality of pulse ingredients and how they can help meet consumer needs.

Want to learn more? Contact us for spec sheets or samples of Firebird’s pulse flours today. Give us a call at 701-324-4330 or email us at



Agricom International: and

Firebird Artisan Mills to Showcase Gluten-Free, Ancient Grain, Pulses at IFT16

See What We’ve Got to Offer at Booth 3492

July is the perfect time to visit Chicago’s McCormick Place, because that’s when the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2016 happens.  IFT16 is a favorite event at Firebird, because it brings together industry professionals from all over the world to discuss the industry’s best science, most innovative strategies and newest solutions to inform your work and improve your business.

If you’re like us, you’re looking forward to catching up with colleagues and talking about new opportunities. Come see us at booth 3492, and be sure to check out some of the other things we’re excited to see:

In Trend by IFT (booth 2242) – IFT has recognized gluten-free as a trend category to watch, and we couldn’t agree more. They’ve also identified protein (pulses, beans and many ancient grains we process are high in protein), and health and wellness as hot categories for innovation and solution-spotting.

All That and a Bag of Chips (healthy snacking presentation) – We’d like to think our gluten-free ancient grains and pulses have something good to contribute in this arena, and we love the chance to learn more.

What are you going to see at IFT? Have any goals for the show? We’d love to help. Give us a call at 701.324.4330 or drop us an email before the show.

Be sure to stop by booth 3492 to tell us anything that’s on your mind, or just to say hello.

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Ancient grains provide a back-to-basics approach to food preparation

The artisan bread renaissance

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