Knowledge, Messaging, and Selection of Whole-Grain Foods: Consumer and Food Industry Perspectives

Publication Name

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior


Objective: To explore whole-grain food definitions in labeling and relevance to consumers and the food industry. Design: Semistructured focus groups and interviews. Setting: Online. Participants: Consumers (n = 43) aged ≥ 18 years currently purchasing/consuming grain foods. Food industry participants (n = 17) currently/recently employed within grain food companies. Phenomenon of Interest: Impact of using whole-grain food definitions in labeling. Analysis: Inductive thematic analysis. Results: Six major themes included: consumer knowledge and understanding of whole-grain foods; factors affecting consumer grain food choices; consumer skepticism of labeling; consumer preferences toward whole-grain labeling; acceptability and feasibility of whole-grain food definitions in the food industry; and food innovation/reformulation. For the food industry, definitions impact feasibility, food innovation, and reformulation. Skepticism affected consumer knowledge and understanding, impacting grain food choice and their preference regarding whole-grain labeling. Consumers preferred whole grain in the name of a food and placing the percent of whole grain on the front-of-pack. Conclusions and Implications: Our findings suggest that definitions and regulations, consumer education, and strategies addressing factors influencing consumer choice are needed to improve population whole-grain intakes. Future research may consider formal regulation and implementation of standardized whole-grain food definitions in labeling and explore the subsequent impact on consumer choice and whole-grain intake.

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