ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Consumers are eating significantly more whole grains than they were in 2005 but they are nowhere near meeting dietary guidelines, a new NPD study shows.
Results of the study conducted earlier this year were presented at the Whole Grains Council's international conference here last week.
Entitled “Making Half Your Grains Whole,” the conference on April 20-22 brought together representatives of the food industry and related arenas to explore progress in whole grain consumption and how to improve promotions in the future, both at retail and at foodservice outlets.
“The good news is that NPD's figures show that since 2005, consumption of whole grains is up 20%, when consumption had remained steady between 1998 and 2005,” said Cynthia Harriman, director, food and nutrition strategies, Oldways/the Whole Grains Council, Boston.
Surprisingly, the age group that increased its whole grain consumption the most is the 18 to 34 age group, which increased its intake 38% between 2005 and 2008.
Another set of recent NPD statistics shows 60% of Americans ate at least one whole grain product in a typical two-week period.
“Initially, the 20% higher consumption overall may sound like a lot, but not when one realizes an increase of 200% to 500% is needed to meet guidelines set by the government and health experts,” Harriman said.
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, provider of consumer and retail market information, made the heretofore-unpublished data available on the first day of the council's conference.
Whole grain products, with their improved flavor profile, have won over consumers.
“People used to see whole grains as plain and utilitarian, like your old cardigan sweater, but now whole grains have entered the realm of premium and special, like a designer dress,” Harriman told SN.
In-store bakeries and deli foodservice programs can take advantage of the trend, she pointed out, and emphasized that the Whole Grains Council has been working closely with the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association to encourage in-store bakeries to use more whole grains in products, promote the products and educate their customers about them.
Harriman said that while more par-baked breads tend to be artisan-style, and increasingly artisan breads are multi-whole grain, or have interesting bits of whole grains added to them, she sees whole grain cakes and cookies becoming more common.
“One council member company sells a great range of whole grain muffins and quick breads to in-store bakeries.”
Most of NPD's data reflect people's consumption of packaged goods, but the trend bodes well for both deli and in-store bakeries, and the data can point those departments to the age groups that are most interested in bolstering their consumption of whole grains.
It's significant that consumption is up since 2005 when the government published its dietary guidelines, the council introduced the whole grain stamp, and the “Make Half Your Grains Whole” motto was launched.
But even with a 20% average increase in consumption, Americans are far from making half their grain consumption whole.
NPD's research shows that on average Americans are currently making just 11% of their grain consumption whole. The 18-34 demographic was third highest in this category, making whole grains 10.4% of its grain consumption. The 35-54 age group made whole grains 10.9% of its grain consumption, and the over-55 group took up some of the slack in lower age groups, making whole grains 13.7% of its grain consumption.
None of the age groups averaged even one whole serving of whole grains per day, but the oldest group, the over-55s, stood out in that collection of statistics, averaging 0.82 serving per day. The next most diligent in whole grains eating was the 18-24 group, which averaged 0.80 serving a day.
Age played a role in what time of day whole grains were consumed. The older groups took their whole grain servings at breakfast, while the younger groups chose whole grain snacks later in the day.
The NPD study involved 2,000 households and 5,000 individuals.
Pasta, Bread Rise at Stop & Shop
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Underscoring NPD's study results, Stop & Shop's Paulette Thompson, here at the Whole Grains Council's conference, described hefty sales of whole grain pasta and bread.
Thompson, manager, health & wellness, Stop & Shop Supermarkets/Giant, Landover, Md., said whole grain pasta sales at Stop & Shop have soared 20% each year since 2005, and what's more, “healthy” pasta buyers average a grocery basket significantly higher in dollars than that of other pasta buyers.
Meanwhile, year-to-date, whole-grain/multi-grain bread's dollar sales rose 3.4% while white bread declined 4.5%, she added.
Thompson participated on a panel that explored growth and potential of whole grain products. Other panelists included Connie Clifford, manager, healthy living, consumer education, Hannaford Bros., Scarborough, Maine.