WASHINGTON — For the first time ever, the Grain Foods Foundation will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for scientific research in pursuit of the most important and promising areas of inquiry about the healthfulness of grain-based foods. Plans for the RFP were announced by Erin E. Ball, executive director of the GFF at an annual meeting of the organization conducted Jan. 26.
The meeting followed a “fall listening tour” conducted by Ms. Ball intended to help the organization hone its focus going forward.
“The steps we’re taking toward continuing and bolstering GFF’s thought leadership in grain foods nutrition science are myriad,” she said. “Next month we will roll out our inaugural research RFP giving researchers across the spectrum of nutrition science the opportunity to pitch us with their ideas to know more, better and deeper things about carbohydrates, grain foods and your products. By mid-to-late summer, I should be able to report to you about the response to our request for proposals, about the caliber of the submissions and about the choices the GFF board made in funding two or three of the submissions.”
Ms. Ball said other food categories, including eggs, almonds and walnuts have used an RFP approach to “fuel a research pipeline in their respective spheres for many years to the ends of increasing positive perception of those foods and ultimately bolstering sales.”
In addition to building out its research pipeline, Ms. Ball said the GFF will be committed to “packaging the messaging gleaned from the science.”
“I hope to see a messaging working group again from GFF investors this spring to draw from the expertise you all represent as we continue to partner with the Cyphers Agency to make sure we are optimizing our web presence, social media, and other digital initiatives to help you push out the content we’re creating,” she said. “Investors are our first target audience and the mandate to provide you with messages and tools to support your brands, products and even workforce education initiatives is large and loud for me. I look forward to the wisdom the working group will share and how to do this better, more efficiently and with power.”
Ms. Ball’s comments were preceded by remarks by two participants in the meeting — Ron Tremayne, senior vice president of sales at AB Mauri North America, and Kirk Stehr, senior vice president of sales at Grain Craft and outgoing GFF co-chair. Mr. Tremayne reminded the audience of the principles that drove the decision to establish the GFF in 2004.
“We were trying to defend our industry and the value that we bring in a new business environment where there were a lot of people with access to the internet and with the blogs and the various challenges,” he said. “Everyone with an agenda could come out and go after what I thought was an honorable industry and a great group of manufacturing people putting the bread products onto the shelf to nourish our customers and the rest of the world.”
Mr. Tremayne described the transition bringing Ms. Ball to the head of the GFF as a “kind of rebirthing.”
He said the organization’s plans “bring even more focus to enable the industry to take advantage of the work of the GFF so we can go to the market ourselves and maybe even as a group to share that benefit and defend ourselves against the challenges that come routinely, whether it’s a new diet fad that’s challenging our bread in the value that we deliver, or just somebody with an agenda.”
While Ms. Ball is the new executive director of the GFF, Mr. Stehr reminded the group she has “been a key piece of this organization all through the years that she has the right experience to take us to this next level.”
“We want to give every baker and every investor the tools to be proud of the products we’re putting on the shelf collectively,” he said.
Kelly Knowles, a GFF staff member responsible for development and industry relations, reminded the group the organization was established as a joint effort between the milling and baking industries and has, from inception, been supported from both together with allied suppliers.“It’s important that we all remember the Grain Foods Foundation remains a stand-alone organization and relies on continued funding from baker, miller and supplier companies and partner organizations,” Ms. Knowles said.