Tried and not bested

Tritordeum products are available in 10 countries in Europe and making headway in others. Food & Drink Technology discovers why the Netherlands is the latest to join the phenomenon of this sustainable cereal

At the recent Sustainable Food Summit in Amsterdam, 13-14 June 2019, Dr. Pilar Barceló, the managing director of Agrifood company, Agrasys, spelt out how Tritordeum, a Mediterranean cereal with nutritional, agronomical and organoleptic benefits, ticks all the boxes as a sustainable ingredient for food producers.

Everyone knows we must grow our food in a sustainable way and use resources wisely, Dr. Barceló stresses – according to FAO, more than 80% of our soils are contaminated with fertiliser and pesticides residues and agriculture uses 70% of the world’s water resources.

“The current data is devastating,” she says. “However, new crops, varieties and improved cultivation techniques will allow more efficient, sustainable and profitable production in organic agriculture and it will attract new growers.

“On sustainability issues, Tritordeum not only contributes positively to the environment but also to our society. That is why we received the award as Sustainable Ingredient in the Sustainable Food Awards 2018,” says Barceló.

So, what makes tritordeum more sustainable?
Tritordeum is a Mediterranean cereal – the combination of durum wheat (Triticum durum) and wild barley (Hordeum chilense) – with benefits for the environment, the consumer and the farmer.

As a crop, Tritordeum is ideal for sustainable production systems and has a better ecological footprint. It is a robust cereal, adapted to the inclemency of climate change.

“It stands up well to drought, high temperatures and flooding,” explains Dr. Barceló. “The fact that Tritordeum makes efficient use of water and has good resistance to diseases, reducing pesticide usage, makes it a more sustainable cereal with reduced environmental impact.’’

Tritordeum is cultivated in the Mediterranean area – Spain, Italy, Greece and the South of France – under both conventional and organic production. Today, 50% of the production comes from local farmers with an organic certification.

“The value chain of the Tritordeum has several characteristics that make it a fair and sustainable,” assures Dr. Barceló.

“Agrasys works with local farmers under repurchase agreements without fluctuation of prices, supporting local rural economies and following a philosophy of respect for sustainable principles.’’

The project has been implemented in each region with local farmers under agreements that ensure stable, fair incomes that are not affected by external market variations.

Once harvested, the company Agrasys supervises all steps from the field to the nearest mill. After a traditional milling process, the grain becomes quality flour.

A big success
The Netherlands has been one of the countries in Europe that has embraced this sustainable cereal. Tritordeum flour is available in Holland, Germany and Belgium thanks to Agrasys` partnership with Commandeursmolen.

This pioneering milling company – located near Maastrich – is a modern artisanal mill with a natural energy source: the fast-flowing waters of the river Geul, which drives the paddles of the water turbine from a differential head of several metres.

Among Tritordeum consumers in Holland are, Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk, who competed with the best in the Tour de France 2018 because they can ride fast. But also, because they had a good breakfast including Tritordeum bread. The baker of the two Dutch cycling teams SunWeb and LottoJumbo – Frank van Eerd – was responsible for introducing Tritordeum bread into the cyclist’s diet and the results speak for themselves.

Van Erd, from the Bisschopsmolen bakery in Maastricht is a real enthusiast for the grain because it bakes well, looks nice and tastes even better,” explains Barceló. “Athletes and cyclists eat Tritordeum bread because it tastes good and because it is nutritious and easily digestible,” she adds.

Besides the Netherlands, products made with this new cereal like flour, bread, biscuits, pasta and many other are now available in more than nine different countries including Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, UK, Denmark, Germany and Belgium. Moreover, since 2018 Tritordeum bread is available in 720 shops in the largest Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn.

Nutrition also matters
Tritordeum is winning supporters because of its nutritional benefits: high levels of fibre, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants like lutein and digestible gluten.

In comparison to wheat, it has high levels of dietary fibre with positive effects on cardiovascular health; 10 times more lutein – an antioxidant involved in eye health that protects the retina from UV light and the effects of aging –w and more unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, considered a central pillar of the Mediterranean diet. Furthermore, it has more digestible gluten – according to published scientific research, Tritordeum has a significant reduction in gluten proteins associated with food intolerances in comparison with wheat.

Although it does contain gluten and thus is not suitable for coeliac disease sufferers, it may be an alternative cereal for those who want to reduce their gluten intake or people with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Source: Vaquero et. al., (2017)

Thanks to its nutritional and organoleptic properties, Tritordeum is suitable for bakery and pastry products, pasta and pizza, battered and breaded products, extruded products, vegetable drinks and also fermented beverages, such as beer.

Dr. Barceló concludes: “Tritordeum is an answer to today’s demands and market trends in the food industry for locally-produced natural ingredients to make functional products with reduced environmental impact.”

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