Trustees announce major overhaul of G.F.F.

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — Having met its initial objective of stemming the decline of baked goods consumption early in the 2000s, the Grain Foods Foundation is adjusting its mission, is relocating to Washington and will be seeking new executive leadership.

In a statement issued Feb. 8, the board of trustees said the grain-based foods industry would be better served if it were to refocus the group’s effort. The changes were agreed upon at a Jan. 26 board meeting.

While the group will be moving and will be replacing Judi Adams as president, the G.F.F. will remain an independent organization. It will relocate to Washington from Ridgway, Colo. Ms. Adams, who has been president of the foundation since its establishment eight years ago, has been offered the position of chairman of a revitalized scientific advisory board. She also serves as president of the Wheat Foods Council.

“G.F.F., founded in 2004, has served as the ‘voice of the grain-food industry‘ to counteract the impact of popular low-carb diets on consumption of grain foods,” the trustees said. “G.F.F. successfully met its initial mission by helping halt the erosion of baked food consumption. It has provided meaningful value in communicating the nutritional benefits of grain foods to target audiences.

“Over time, however, the grain foods industry has moved into a new set of challenges. With an updated mandate, G.F.F. has suffered from decreased focus. To effectively influence behavior in the current nutrition environment and optimize its value to grain industry members, G.F.F. needs to be sharply focused against clear measurable goals. G.F.F. needs to be more aggressive, flexible and nimble. Expertise in issues management, marketing and public relations are critically important.”

According to the trustees, the move to Washington “will position G.F.F. closer to many key influencer organizations with which it hopes to work more closely.” Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A., and Mary Waters, president of the North American Millers’ Association, have been delegated the responsibility to generate recommendations for the new location and leader of the G.F.F. A search for a new president will begin this year.

The trustees identified three main objectives in the foundation’s refocused mission:

1. Prioritize ‘influencing the influencers’ — G.F.F. will change the primary focus of its efforts from consumers to key influencers. It will aggressively promote the nutrition benefits of grain foods with key influencers, including health and nutrition professionals, appropriate health-related organization, health and nutrition policy makers, and leading nutrition journalists and bloggers.

2. Proactively track and preempt misinformation — G.F.F. will proactively track grain-focused initiatives (studies, books, broadcasts, articles) with the goal of preempting or countermanding misinformation regarding grain foods on an ongoing basis. The G.F.F. Scientific Advisory Board members will lead efforts to provide rapid response to false communications and claims against grain foods, including fad diets.

3. Maintain crisis management reserves — To effectively guard against potential extreme attacks against grain foods, G.F.F. will develop a crisis communications plan to continue to develop appropriate reserves to enable prompt industry response to neutralize such attacks.

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