Nov 13, 2017 • By

Study reveals confusion about whole grain

Consumers around the world are confused about how much is enough when it comes to whole grain in their diets.

They’re also not sure about which foods contain whole grain.

A study released today, of 16,000 men and women in 11 countries, found that while 82 percent of people believe it’s important to eat whole grain, almost the same number (83 percent) admit they don’t know how much they should consume every day.

Less than half (47 percent) think they eat enough whole grain.


The numbers come from a study released today by Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW), and timed for the start of the 2017 International Whole Grain Summit in Vienna.

“We know that whole grain is good for us and that it’s an important part of a balanced diet. That’s why we’ve taken significant steps over the past decade to make our breakfast cereals better, by making whole grain the main ingredient in most of our cereals and improving the nutritional profile of our products,” says David Homer, president and chief executive officer of CPW.

CPW has been a partnership between General Mills and Nestlé since 1990. Headquartered in Switzerland, CPW sells more than 50 cereal brands in more than 130 markets.

Almost four in 10 people (38 percent) contacted for the CPW study say they don’t know what foods contain whole grains.

Surprisingly, one in 10 think bananas contain whole grain, while nearly one in five believe it is typically found in white bread and 14 percent think it is in white rice.

In fact, whole grains are commonly found in whole grain breakfast cereals, brown rice, whole grain pasta, wholemeal bread, and porridge oats.

“We know that people are generally quite confused when it comes to whole grain, despite the fact that many organizations – including us – have been talking about whole grain for a long time,” says Nilani Sritharan, nutritionist at CPW. “There’s more we can do to help people easily identify which foods have whole grain.”

We talked with Sritharan in the latest episode of our podcast to learn more about CPW’s whole grain study.


Higher consumption of whole grain has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, type-2 diabetes and bowel cancer.

Despite the benefits, only three countries – the U.S., Netherlands and Denmark – have a quantitative recommendation for whole grain. The U.S. recommends a minimum of three servings per day (at least 48 grams), while Denmark recommends between 64 and 75 grams per day, depending on gender.

“We see an opportunity for governments, academics and industry to back a global commitment to help inform people about whole grain,” says Homer. “The first step on this journey is to agree to a set of global guidelines for recommended whole grain intake.”


Over the past two decades General Mills also has been on a mission to increase whole grain in cereals and other products.

We accelerated this good-for-you journey in 2005 when we converted our entire line of cereals to include at least eight grams of whole grain per serving. It was the single biggest health-driven product improvement in our history.

Today, all Big G, Nature Valley and Annie’s cereals deliver double-digit grams of whole grain per serving, and 30 General Mills cereals have 16 or more grams of whole grain per serving. Fully 98 percent of our cereals list whole grain as the first ingredient and deliver at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving – much more than any of our competitors.

In addition, our K-12 breakfast portfolio in U.S. schools are also whole-grain rich and deliver more than 1 million servings of whole grain to school children every school day.

SHOW NOTES – Episode 27: November 13, 2017

Link: Whole grain study

Link: Infographic

Link: Cereal Partners Worldwide

Link: The General Mills History Minute/Crazy Cow (Video)

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