Bob Quinn, President Kamut
International Ltd.

Tastebuds tingled at London UK’s annual Natural & Organic Products Europe exhibition last month when one of the many exciting newcomers, a delicious organic snack, made its debut prior to its official launch in the United States later this year.Introducing

Kracklin’ KAMUT the Khorasan toasted wheat snack, at the show’s Montana pavilion were Kamut International’s Bob Quinn, wife Ann and their son Adam.

They told eager enquirers that the snack is made using large kernels of Kamut® brand grain with natural, organic certified hi-oleic safflower oil grown and pressed on their farm and sea salt from Utah. The kernels are boiled in water and then roasted. The temperature reaches around 178 degrees Celsius before they are lightly seasoned with sea salt from ancient caves in Utah. The oil leaves the processing facility to be re-used as fuel for their tractors.

Rather than trying to compete directly with the confectionery market nationwide in the US, for example peanut and popcorn manufacturers, the Quinns’ home state of Montana will be their initial focus.  Firstly, they plan to offer Kracklin Kamut™ to local youth groups at half price, in keeping with the family’s ethical business policy.  After that, their strategy includes selling at ball games, high school athletic events and county fairs.  Eventually, they intend to diversify flavours, pack sizes and look for new market opportunities. The golden kernels are presented in packets of 1.5 ounces (43 grams). Twelve units go in a display box and 18 display boxes fit in the shipping box. This is their first ever retail food product to be sold through the Montana Horizons Organic Snacks arm of the business. 

“Following failed attempts trying to get our customers excited by bringing a roasted wheat snack like corn nuts to the retail market, we decided to develop the product ourselves”, said Bob. “After 30 years positioning Kamut®, and making sure it could only be grown under organic methods and would not be genetically modified, it is a nice challenge to also offer a final product to the end consumer”.

Demand for ‘gluten free’ and ‘wheat alternative’ products has led to the growing popularity of ancient grains like Khorasan wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp.turanicum), an ancestor of the modern variety, which was rediscovered in the mid-1970s by Bob Quinn and his father Mack. Believed to originate in Egypt or Asia Minor, Kamut® currently grows mainly in Montana, USA and Alberta, Canada, although its biggest market is Italy. In 1990, Bob, a fourth-generation Montana farmer and scientist, registered the protected cultivated turanicum variety QK-77 as the trademark Kamut®. The name derives from an ancient Egyptian word for wheat and guarantees the highest level of quality, putting his business at the premier end of Khorasan wheat production.

To secure traceability and avoid the grain being subject to genetic engineering, Kamut® is only grown under contract and organic certification. This summer wheat with a very large kernel has defined levels of protein (between 12 and 18 percent), resulting in a generally 30% higher protein content than modern wheat. It is also 98% free of disease, un-hybridized and cannot be mixed with modern wheat pasta. The resultant grain not only provides a uniquely rich, nutty flavour, but also has greater nutritional value than modern wheat, including high levels of selenium (400 to 1000 ppb), a mineral known for its antioxidant capacity. To meet these and other requirements when growing Khorasan wheat, KAMUT International Ltd. offers technical assistance to the farmers plus a favourable price guarantee to ensure their profitability.

Research remains at the heart of Bob Quinn’s philosophy and the Quinn Organic Research Centre is testament to his faith not only in the advantages of organic agriculture, but also specifically to the health benefits of KAMUT® brand Khorasan grain.  For example, a 2013 Italian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a reduction in participants’ metabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease. More recently, a study on inflammation caused by feeding ancient Kamut® wheat pasta compared to modern durum wheat pasta to rats, published last year in Food Research International, also demonstrated that Kamut® components offer a protective effect against oxidative stress and inflammatory status, as well as higher nutritional content.  Furthermore, although the company does not claim that Kamut® has more “digestible” gluten than other wheat varieties, some wheat-sensitive people claim they can tolerate it better than regular wheat. Indeed, a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed improved symptoms among IBS sufferers.

At the London trade fair, the Quinns also showcased a handmade, 100% pure, plant-based soap under ‘The Oil Barn’ brand, made with cold pressed and unrefined organic hi-oleic safflower oil.  This is yet another sign of the industrious spirit that characterizes Bob and his family, always searching for sustainable ways to farm the land and bring good products to market.