Whole grain trend takes off in the US


Whole grain products are taking off in the US as consumers seek out affordable better-for-you food amidst constant obesity concerns, according to recent research from Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). It found more than 3,700 products were launched since 2005 with a whole grain claim in the US.

David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, said: “2010 has been particularly strong so far, with 651 whole grain products launched across all food categories in the US. At this rate, 2010 should be the biggest year ever in terms of total whole grain product launches.”

Since 2005, the whole grain product claim has consistently been in the top 20 among all food and beverage claims, according to Mintel. Furthermore, the share of all products with whole grain claims has gone up consistently since that time. In 2005, just 2.3% of all new product launches had a whole grain claim, whereas in 2010, this has grown to 5.6%.

An increasingly familiar logo to consumers comes from the Whole Grains Council. Currently, the Council has its Whole Grain Stamp on over 4,400 products in the US and 20 other countries. “Our Stamp was designed to be a tool for consumers and we love that it’s being put to use and to the test,” said Kara Berrini, programme manager for the Whole Grains Council.

SPINS, an information provider tracking natural, organic and specialty gourmet sales data within natural and conventional retail outlets, also captures sales of products with the Whole Grain Stamp. The company said combined channel sales of naturally positioned dry grocery products with the Stamp grew 16% for the 12 week period ending 7 August 2010, versus a year ago.

“In fact, substantial sales growth is due primarily to performance of Whole Grains Council–certified natural bread and baked goods (up 221%); salty/savory snacks (up 133%) and energy bars (up 76%),” said Mary Ellen Lynch, director of consumer insights at SPINS.

Indeed, the bread market in particular has benefited from the Whole Grains Council Stamp. SPINS reports sales of natural bread loaves bearing the Stamp increased 172% (up $7.4m) in the 12 week period ending 7 August 2010, versus a year ago. And consumers clearly place a great deal of importance on the symbol. According to Mintel’s 2009 bread report, whole grains are the second most influential factor in a bread purchase after price only.

Looking ahead, Browne said: “While sales of these products are still small, there are a lot of good signs for the whole grain market. Nearly 6% of all food products and 18% of all-natural food products launched in 2010 have the whole grain claim. Innovations in unexpected places, including beverages and dairy products, will also drive sales.”