Wholegrains code to lift consumer confidence

Photo of wholegrain breads

Increasing consumer demand for wholegrain foods represents an opportunity for the Australian grains industry.

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As evidence mounts about the role that plant-based diets, particularly those rich in wholegrains, play in preventing instances of chronic disease, an increasing demand for ‘high in wholegrain’ foods is being firmly established. As a result of this trend for more authentic and nutritious wholegrain products, the need for innovation in this area offers significant opportunities for industry.

But communicating levels of wholegrain content continues to present a challenge for industry, due to a lack of regulation on wholegrain content claims on packaging and in product marketing. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code does not regulate the use of wholegrain content claims, so products making these claims can contain vastly differing amounts. For example, breads can contain wholegrain levels ranging from eight grams up to 60 grams per serve.

So in 2013, the GLNC launched the Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims to combat the difficulty surrounding communication of wholegrain content to consumers. One of the code of practice’s primary objectives is to provide a tool to encourage the development and promotion of more nutritious wholegrain foods, thus increasing grain supply to the food industry and providing opportunities for growers and manufacturers.

As part of GLNC’s promotion of the code of practice, representatives from the grains industry gathered in Sydney on 24 November for the GLNC Whole Grain Industry Briefing Day. GLNC and Sarah Hyland, the manager of industry services at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST), presented insights into the latest research and trends in the wholegrains category. The GLNC also presented an update on the impact of the code of practice, demonstrating how compliance has influenced the amount of wholegrain and consistency of messaging on wholegrain foods in Australia. The code has had a significant impact on the grains industry so far.

Rebecca Williams, an accredited practising dietitian and nutrition and code manager at GLNC, explains the code of practice’s impact: “Since its implementation in 2013, the code has encouraged manufacturers to add over 100,000 tonnes of wholegrain into the food supply. That’s the equivalent of over 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools from 20 registered manufacturers and over 370 eligible products.”

Positive uptake of the code of practice and good levels of compliance continue to instil confidence in the Australian public’s ability to identify those foods containing significant amounts of wholegrain. For the grains industry, forming a part of this movement towards clearer identification represents just one of the many advantages of registering compliance with the code. Registration demonstrates commitment to ensuring consumers can make an informed decision when looking for foods higher in wholegrains. And in many cases, this has led to reformulation of not only specific products, but whole product lines in order to comply with the code.

Sarah Hyland notes that the opportunities for industry are substantial. “The trend for more authentic products, coupled with increasing consumer awareness on health issues, is driving demand for innovation in this sector. And with significant growth in the snack market and an emphasis on consumer convenience, this presents considerable opportunities for change.”

With demonstrated consumer awareness and adherence to trends driving movement in this category, the significant addition of wholegrain since the code of practice’s implementation shows continuing growth in the grains market. Importantly, this identifies a growing need for innovation along the entire supply chain, presenting valuable opportunities for growers and manufacturers.

More information:

Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council

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