Several trends turn in industry’s favor

by Josh Sosland
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Josh Sosland By any number of measures, it’s been a tough few months for grain-based foods. Between the alarming dip in per capita flour consumption in 2015 and the apparent congressional failure to prevent the de facto nationwide proliferation of Vermont’s labeling law for genetically modified foods, the industry endured great cause for concern.

Against this backdrop three different news stories appearing in this publication offer a welcome balm. One comprehensive study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine looking at possible health threats from genetically modified foods found none, looking specifically at concerns about cancer, diabetes, allergies, autism and celiac disease. Next, an influential annual consumer survey found attitudes toward grain-based foods improve dramatically when described as “enriched,” rather than “refined.” And finally, a beleaguered baking industry looks poised to benefit in the year ahead from the largest wheat carryover in decades and resultant weight on prices.

None of these developments erases the difficulties facing the industry as a result of consumer attitudes toward the healthfulness of grain-based foods. Still, the consumer study and the N.A.S. research, which represent commonsense affirmations of what the industry has said all along, should be invigorating and reinforcing for industry leaders. This is particularly so as they contemplate steps toward combating the unfounded negatives that continue to dog grain-based foods.
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