Turano Baking's Bread for Life campaign promotes the value of bread.
Turano Baking's The Book On Bread or A Little No Carb Reality Check debunks many myths about bread. The company distributes the book at events in the Chicagoland area.
The Foundation for the Advancement of Grain Based Foods' logo resembles a person growing from a bud of wheat.
Activity is bubbling within the baking industry. From industry-wide efforts to individual bakery campaigns, many leaders in the industry are spreading a positive message about bakery foods. Sure, it took an all out assault from a series of anti-carbohydrate diets to stir the pot, but it now appears that the baking industry is getting into the fight.
For example, Berwyn, Ill.-based Turano Baking Co. launched an advertising and public relations campaign that celebrates bread and its place in a healthful diet. "We decided to go forward with the 'Bread for Life' campaign because I've had so many friends ask if the carbohydrate buzz had affected our business," Giancarlo Turano, Turano Baking's executive vice president, says. Fortunately for the bakery, the carbohydrate craze has not impacted the company's sales. However, Giancarlo Turano said it is still necessary to reinforce the value of bread to consumers. "It's a story that has to be told and retold, day in and day out," Giancarlo Turano says. "We have to reinforce to the consumer that eating bread is still a normal way to live and a good way to live."
To reinforce this message, Turano Baking has purchased advertising on bus shelters and mallscapes throughout the Chicagoland area. The company also sponsors community and health fitness events. As part of these efforts, the company created and distributes a booklet that emphasizes the benefits of carbohydrates. The Book on Bread or a Little No Carb Reality Check also debunks common misconceptions about bread. "We want to spread the word that there's a place for bread in a healthy diet," Giancarlo Turano says. "Bread is not the bad guy."
The role of promoting grain-based foods has always been a gray area for the baking industry. For starters, many bakers felt that there was not really a need to promote the benefits of their products because the industry always assumed that the benefits of bakery foods were common knowledge. When promotions were needed, bakers rightfully figured that it was best to promote their specific product in their specific market area. Why funnel money into a national campaign that promotes bakery foods in general when that money can be better used to promote a specific brand?
How times have changed. This once logical assessment on the role of promoting the overall baking industry has been tossed out the window in light of the current baking environment. Although many in the industry sense that the low-carbohydrate fad is cooling off, the damage has been done. In an instant, a significant segment of the American population came to the realization that carbohydrate-filled bakery foods were bad for them.
This far-reaching sentiment has even invaded the baking industry's strongest promotional tool: the Food Guide Pyramid.
At this year's Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo, a forum was held to discuss the Food Guide Pyramid and the issues surrounding its revision.
During the question and answer session, one of the speakers asked where consumers commonly see the Food Guide Pyramid. Several people in the audience quickly called out "bakery foods."
The baking industry has had a love affair with the Food Guide Pyramid since United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) first introduced the graphic in 1992. In the last 12 years, this familiar graphic has appeared on countless bakery foods, from breads and rolls to cakes and sweet goods. When the Food Guide Pyramid was introduced, it validated what many consumers, nutritionists and dieticians always believed: A diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and grains was healthful.
Grain-based foods' position at the base of the Food Guide Pyramid served as a promotional tool for bakeries throughout the country. However, this once cherished promotional tool is in jeopardy of being taken away. USDA and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) are currently reviewing the Food Guide Pyramid and dietary guidelines that mold the pyramid. And although the final revisions have not been cemented, early word is that grains may lose their cherished spot at the base of the pyramid. Even the pyramid shape itself is in question. USDA is currently seeking comments about the development of a new graphic and logo to represent The Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Although many decisions are undecided, bakers should prepare for the worst. According to several sources, there's a strong chance that enriched grains' position on the Food Guide Pyramid will lessen. However, whole grain consumption is expected to be increased.
Building a new foundation
If grain-based foods lose there position as the foundation of the Food Guide Pyramid, bakers will suffer the loss of its main promotional tool to the American population. To replace this potential loss and reinforce the importance of grain-based foods in a healthful diet, American Bakers Association (ABA) and North American Millers' Association (NAMA) teamed up to form a third party independent organization called the Foundation for the Advancement of Grain Based Foods (FAGBF). According to Lee Sanders, ABA's vice president of regulatory and technical services, FAGBF comprehensively addresses all of the issues the industry is facing, including low-carbohydrate diets and the growing perception that bread is unhealthy.
Although still in its infancy, FAGBF already has defined a structure. First and foremost, Sanders says that the foundation will operate a comprehensive public relations campaign, not an advertising campaign. Included in these public relations' efforts will be reaching out to nutritionists and the medical community to spread grain-based foods' positive message. As part of this effort, FAGBF will try to influence public policy and recruit advocates to promote grain-based foods.
To guide FAGBF's efforts, the foundation has tapped Judi Adams, who will resign as Wheat Foods Council's president and start her new post on September 1.
Adams first goal will be developing a campaign that focuseson the bread industry. "We think that by focusing on breads, that it will serve as a template to build on for other categories," Sanders says.
ABA and NAMA have set an initial budget goal of $4 million to operate FAGBF. This money is currently being solicited from many sources, including bakeries, milling companies and baking associations. So far, BEMA, which contributed $1 million over a five-year period, American Institute of Baking and Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, have made financial commitments to the foundation, Sanders says.
Some of the remaining money will be solicited from bakeries. At press time, the foundation was in the process of sending letters to bakeries throughout the country. The foundation is asking baking companies to give 2.5 cents per hundredweight of flour that bakers use to make breads, rolls and buns.
The strength of FAGBF depends on baking companies willingness to give money to the foundation. Although responses from the letters have yet to arrive, many large wholesale bakeries have already voiced their support.
"We're pretty excited that we're finallycoming together in the industry to speak to the strengths of bread," Matt Hall, Sara Lee Bakery Group's vice president of public relations, says. "Sara Lee is participating and contributing to this effort."
Other baking companies, such as George Weston Bakeries, also have voiced their support for the foundation. However, it is yet to be seen if the rest of the baking industry, particularly intermediate-size bakeries with smaller pockets than publicly traded companies, will jump on board and donate potential profits to an overall campaign for the bread industry. For many of these bakeries, which requested to remain anonymous, the question is: Why should I spend my money promoting bread in general when I could be spending my money to promote my bread in my market area? Regardless of these questions, every bakery interviewed for this story was enthusiastic about the idea of promoting the benefits of grain-based foods to a large audience. The next step will be finding out if this excitement translates into cash for the foundation.
The almighty dollar
Unfortunately, the role of promoting bakery foods always boils down to the almighty dollar, which is why the Food Guide Pyramid is so beloved by the baking industry. Other industry associations also are taking great strides to promote the grain-based foods industry, but with much smaller budgets. Since 1972 Wheat Foods Council (WFC) has promoted grain-based foods by spreading the industry's positive message to the media, conducting research and influencing the nutrition community. The creation of FAGBF will undoubtedly put a strain on WFC's budget because ABA is pulling back its annual $350,000 contribution, says Adams. "In the past, Wheat Foods Council has always had to focus their dollars very tightly," Adams says.
This year, WFC is focusing its efforts on two different campaigns. The council's first project is to promote a new book that focuses on the importance of counting calories, not carbs. The second campaign is a research project that will look at the benefits of eating a diet that includes whole grains and fiber.
Although both WFC and FAGBF have similar goals and messages, Adams says that there is a place for both organizations in the baking industry. "Having the message come from two different sources will help the message get out to consumers," Adams says.
Although money plays a large role in promoting grain-based foods, there are several opportunities to spread the industry's message without spending millions of dollars. Independent Bakers Association (IBA) has been accomplishing this task since 1968. Ever since the carbohydrate craze burst onto the scene, IBA has focused on influencing the policy makers. "If there is something we don't like, we'll work through Congress, which has always been IBA's source of strength and source of ability to get regulatory agencies to move," Nick Pyle, IBA's president, said. According to Pyle, one of IBA's goals is preserving grain-based foods' position on the Food Guide Pyramid. It furthered this goal at its recent annual meeting in Washington D.C. At the meeting the association's members met with state Congressional delegations to talk about the issues affecting the baking industry. IBA also has defended the grain-based food industry to a national audience by participating in television shows such as Dateline, which appears on NBC.
This exposure, the efforts of other associations and the buzz generated by the creation of FAGBF have helped arouse the baking industry. Already, many bakers say that the low-carbohydrate craze is losing its legs. Despite this, the need for the grain-based food industry to continually promote its products is clear. And, many leaders in the industry are taking the initiative to spread the positive message of consuming grain-based foods.
Foundation for the Advancement of Grain Based Foods' officer slate
President: Judi Adams, former president of Wheat Foods Council
Board of trustees officers
Board of trustees members
Honorary, Ex-officio trustees