Major implications for baking in shifting motherhood patterns

by Josh Sosland
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For a long time, particularly in the years since the Grain Foods Foundation was established, women between the ages of 24 and 55 years old have been identified as the principal target for promotion of bread and other grain-based foods.

In 2010, the Census Bureau estimated the targeted group’s numbers at a healthy 85 million, a broad age group conjuring images of the full cycle of child rearing from expectant mothers all the way to those in the early years of the empty nest. While grain-based foods has worked to remain attuned to ethnic demographic changes in this group, especially the rapid growth of the Hispanic population, the picture of the “typical woman” in this segment has changed radically in other ways that likely have not been properly reflected.

Mining data gathered by Child Trends, a Washington research group, The New York Times recently reported that nearly two thirds of births to American women under the age of 30 occur outside of marriage. The figure has risen rapidly. Overall, 59% of births occur in married households, meaning the numbers of unmarried younger mothers has accelerated rapidly and could presage dramatic further change for the household.

The article noted an uproar in 1965, when it was reported a quarter of black children were born outside marriage. Currently, 73% of black children are born outside marriage, versus 53% of Latinos and 29% of whites. That 92% of college-educated women are married when they have children poses the specter of marriage as a luxury for the affluent.

The jarring shift is one that requires careful study by baking. This transformation in who raises America’s children already is having profound effects on what is eaten and where. It demands reaction across the entire food industry.

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