25% Increase in 9 Months
BOSTON - The ubiquitous black-and-gold Whole Grain Stamp has reached a new milestone: It now appears on 5,000 products on grocery shelves around the world. The number of products sporting the Stamp, administered by the non-profit Whole Grains Council (WGC) and Oldways, has jumped 25% in a mere nine months, from 4,000 products in July 2010.
"The rapid growth of the Whole Grain Stamp signifies that whole grains really are the new norm for consumers, and the Stamp makes it easy for them to find significant sources of whole grain in products," said Kara Berrini, Oldways and WGC Program Manager. "We'd like to applaud the food industry, including all our Whole Grains Council Members, as well as our Scientific and Culinary Advisors, for helping move the science, palatability, and availability of whole grains to a whole new level."
Part of the accelerated growth is due to international interest in the Stamp. The Whole Grain Stamp is now found on store shelves in 22 countries, having spread to Canada, throughout Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina, to the UK and Ireland, and as far and wide as New Zealand and China.
"A decade ago, whole grains were almost unknown in many countries," said Cynthia Harriman, Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies for Oldways and WGC. "And yet today, brown rice is gaining a foothold in China and Japan; whole grain pasta is becoming commonplace in Italian supermarkets; and a Mexican company is one of the driving forces bringing whole grain breads to Latin America."
Health guidelines in countries around the world are including recommendations to consume whole grains at an increased rate, and the Stamp is quickly becoming an international standard. About 10% of the WGC's 275 members are based outside the U.S. and about 15% of products using the Stamp are being sold outside the United States.
China is one of the most recent countries to adopt the Stamp as the government focuses on improved nutrition as a way to improve overall health, a reaction to the rising rates of chronic disease that are affecting many populations around the world.
Fresh off its own educational and culinary conference, titled "Whole Grains: The New Norm," which took place in Portland, Ore., January 31-February 2, 2011, Oldways and WGC are partnering with the Center for Public Nutrition and Development of China (PNDC) and the Grains for Health Foundation to plan a Whole Grain Forum in Beijing April 20-21, 2011. This event is the first of its kind for China, and will occur in conjunction with the 3rd International Nutrition and Health Industry Expo, taking place April 19-21.
The Whole Grains Council, an initiative of Boston-based 501(c)3 educational non-profit Oldways, has promoted whole grains for better health since 2003 and introduced the Whole Grain Stamp in 2005.
Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, with some studies showing reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. Other benefits include reduced risk of asthma, healthier blood pressure levels, and better weight control.