Wellness driving whole grain introductions

by Keith Nunes
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General Mills cereal with whole grains
General Mills' entire line of cereal in the U.S. has whole grain as the No. 1 ingredient.

KANSAS CITY — Protein, whether it is animal- or plant-based, may be on trend as product developers are working to incorporate the ingredients into an ever-widening pool of product applications. But such ingredients as whole grains, which may have ceded the spotlight, remain in demand and the subject of numerous product development efforts.

Consumer perception of whole grains is strong. When asked “how would you rate the healthfulness of each of the following …” whole grains ranked third, with more than 80% of respondents to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s (IFIC) Food & Health Survey 2017 identifying the ingredients as healthy. The only two ingredients to achieve a higher ranking were vitamin D and fiber.

General Mills Nature Valley cocoa almond butter biscuits with whole grains
General Mills recently launched Nature Valley biscuit sandwiches featuring cocoa almond butter sandwiched between two 100% whole grain oat and honey biscuits.

When asked what steps they have taken in the past year to eat healthier, more than 60% of the IFIC survey respondents said they have been eating more foods with whole grains. The only products to achieve a higher ranking were water and fruits and vegetables.

Food manufacturers are keen to capitalize on the consumer’s perception of whole grains.

Jeff Harmening, General Mills
Jeffrey L. Harmening, c.e.o. of General Mills

“Our U.S. Cereal portfolio is advantaged when it comes to wellness,” said Jeffrey L. Harmening, chief executive officer of General Mills, during a June 29 conference call with financial analysts. “Our entire line has whole grain as the No. 1 ingredient. We’ve removed artificial flavors and colors from almost every product. And we have the largest gluten-free portfolio in the category.”

The company also is adding whole grains to a variety of snack applications. New products introduced this year include a Nature Valley biscuit sandwich featuring cocoa almond butter sandwiched between two 100% whole grain oat and honey biscuits. The snacks offer 14 grams of whole grain and 4 grams of protein per serving.

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