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Whole Grain Consumption Increasing:
Oldways, Whole Grains Council & Industry
Plan New Consumer Programs
Orlando, FL- January 24, 2006 - At the “Getting Whole Grains to 3” conference held Jan. 18-20, 2006 in Orlando, healthy eating advocates and the nation’s food industry leaders strategized ways to help consumers get more whole grains into their everyday meals. The conference was organized by Oldways, the Boston-based food issues think tank, and the Whole Grains Council.
One year after the 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommended Americans increase their whole grain consumption to at least three servings a day, sales and production of whole grains have climbed steadily. Whole grain bread for example, is up 18%, thanks in part to increased consumer awareness and the Whole Grains Council’s eﬀorts. The conference concluded that only a continued emphasis on new and innovative education programs will persuade consumers that whole grains are readily available in markets and simple to incorporate into everyday meal planning.
Dr. Eric Hentges, Executive Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, reported at the conference that many innovative companies are showing strong support for the Dietary Guidelines. These companies are providing healthier alternatives, not just on the kitchen table but at the grocery store, restaurants and even amusement parks; the conference location itself, Walt Disney World® Resort, is an excellent example, based on its recent commitment to make at least 25% of its bread whole grain. Dr. Hentges concluded, “We’ve had good science, but all of that does nothing until we have good implementation. The work of the Whole Grains Council is paramount.”
Whole grain foods are suddenly showing up in unexpected locations. Chain restaurants such as Blimpie, Bruegger’s Bagels, Fazoli’s, Great Harvest Bread Co, Panera, Olive Garden and McDonald’s now oﬀer whole grains on their menus. The Department of Defense has installed shelf talkers in military commissaries reminding troops to choose whole grain products, and has prepared videos to help educate the troops about whole grains. School systems and hospitals nationwide are also taking steps to include healthier food options like whole grains in daily menu choices.
Despite the progress whole grains have made in these industries, 40% of Americans say that locating whole grain foods at their store is a challenge, according to a Knorr-Lipton / Whole Grains Council survey unveiled at the conference. The consumer-friendly Whole Grain Stamps help consumers quickly identify the amount of whole grains in a product. A “Good Source” stamp denotes half a serving of whole grains, while an “Excellent Source” stamp denotes a full serving of whole grains. A “100% Excellent Source” stamp contains a full serving of whole grains without any reﬁned grains.
“Consumers understand the health beneﬁts of eating whole grains, and the buying trends of 2005 have proven this with broad increases across all categories. For example, sales of whole grain pasta rose over 20%. It’s clear that people want to eat healthier, but are looking for help to reach their goals,” said Oldways President and Whole Grains Council leading founder K. Dun Giﬀord. “That is the problem we are working to solve and why we created the Whole Grains Stamp. Eating healthier is easy if you look for this stamp on packaging, because you can Trust the Stamp.”
With almost 600 products now registered to use the Whole Grain Stamps, shoppers are ﬁnding it easier and easier to spot these healthy foods. Products with the Stamp include Uncle Ben’s brown rice, Kashi crackers, Nature’s Path cereals, Gardenburgers, Roman Meal bread, Cascadian Farm granola bars and Near East pilafs, along with hundreds more. The Whole Grains Council now numbers 106 members, including industry giants like General Mills, Quaker, Frito-Lay and George Weston (Arnold Bread, Thomas’ English muﬃns). Consumers who trust the Stamp are making a choice for better health, as eating whole grains has been shown to reduce risk the for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers and obesity.
At the conference, marketing, regulatory and food technology executives from over 40 leading food manufacturers worked together with physicians and healthy eating advocates to develop an action plan to make whole grains even more widespread. Elements of the plan include:
Menu plans for consumers who can choose from “out of the box,” “heat and eat,” or “quick cooking” to learn about whole grain foods that match their lifestyle.
A restaurant program to help diners ﬁnd local restaurants serving whole grain choices.
An information exchange for schools and whole-grain food companies to match school lunch planners with manufacturers who can provide delicious, aﬀordable whole grain options.
Details on these initiatives and others, along with conference presentations, can be found at www.wholegrainscouncil.org. Conference binders are also available to the media upon request.
Sponsors of the “Getting Whole Grains to 3” conference included Knorr®-Lipton® Sides™ with Whole Grains, National Sorghum Producers, Panera Bread, Nature’s Path, Barbara’s Bakery, Bob’s Red Mill, General Mills, Harvest Time Bread, King Arthur Flour, Quaker Oats, Roman Meal, Rubschlager Baking, Snyder’s of Hanover, Uncle Ben’s / Masterfoods USA and the USA Rice Federation.
Oldways is a non-proﬁt, food issues think tank praised for translating the complex details of nutrition science into the familiar language of food. This synthesis converts high-level science into consumer-friendly health-promotion tools for a wide array of interested players. Best known for developing the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, Oldways develops and organizes a wide variety of programs and materials about healthy, traditional and sustainable food choices for consumers, scientists, the food industry, health professionals, chefs, journalists and policy makers.
The Whole Grains Council is a non-proﬁt consortium of industry, scientists and chefs working with Oldways to increase consumption of whole grains for better health. The Council’s many initiatives help manufacturers to create delicious whole grain products; help consumers to ﬁnd whole grain foods and understand their health beneﬁts; and help the media to write accurate, compelling stories about whole grains. You can learn more about the Whole Grains Council at www.wholegrainscouncil.org and about Oldways at www.oldwayspt.org.
Media Relations Manager
Oldways- The Food Issues Think Tank
266 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02116 USa