OLATHE, KAN. — Sustainability, regulatory issues and the role of wheat in nutrition initiatives were featured topics at the 2023 Wheat Quality Council annual meeting Feb. 22-24 at the Embassy Suites Olathe.

Jane Demarchi, president of the North American Millers’ Association, kicked off the speakers’ forum with an update focusing on NAMA’s efforts to promote the wheat and grain-based foods industries in Washington. Ms. Demarchi cited NAMA’s specific areas of interest, which include funding grain research, strengthening transportation, combating misinformation about heavy metals in grain-based foods and building trust between consumers and the food industry. On the sustainability front, Ms. Demarchi noted NAMA’s support for federal conservation programs but emphasized that the organization would not support programs that disincentivize growing wheat.

Grain Craft representatives Reuben McLean, senior director of quality, and Nick Weigel, vice president of quality, regulatory and technical services, primarily discussed Grain Craft’s commitment to sustainability and the importance of regenerative agriculture for wheat growers. Mr. Weigel started by noting Grain Craft’s commitment to “upstream innovation,” which he described as the opportunity to innovate with breeders and growers in ways that improve flour quality further down the supply chain.

“We’re in the conversion business,” Mr. Weigel said. “In this case we’re converting a raw commodity — wheat — into an ingredient.”

Mr. McLean zeroed in on Grain Craft’s position between suppliers and purchasers as a uniquely positioned role that can help incentivize growers and fulfill buyers’ needs.

“We strongly believe that quality flour starts with quality wheat,” Mr. McLean said.

Returning to the regulatory side of things, Lee Sanders, senior vice president, government relations and public affairs for the American Bakers Association, reviewed the ABA’s ongoing conversations with the Food and Drug Administration. Ms. Sanders said the ABA has had recurring conversations with the FDA about strengthening supply chain logistics and improving transportation transparency. Another major area of focus for the ABA has been the upcoming revisions to federal dietary guidelines determined by the US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the newly regulated definition for “healthy” on food packaging.

Other presentation topics included flour fortification, ingredient substitutions and increasing food safety. The event was well-attended, hosting guests from all corners of the United States. Outside the conference room, companies including C.W. Brabender, Midland Scientific Inc., KPM, PerkinElmer and Buchi had display tables set up for attendees to peruse.