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As U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson often says, at any given hour of the day someone, somewhere, is talking about the quality, reliability and value of U.S. wheat. Wheat Letter wants to share just some of the ways USW has been working recently to build a preference for U.S. wheat in an ever more complex world wheat market.

Lauding Nutritious, Delicious U.S. Baking Ingredients in China

USW Beijing participated in the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) “Discover U.S. Baking Ingredients and Trends” hybrid virtual promotion in August 2022 (activity banner in the photo above). The purpose of this activity was to raise Chinese bakers’ awareness of the nutrition, health benefits, taste, and versatility of U.S. baking ingredients. The FAS Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing and 10 USDA Cooperators with products ranging from wheat, dried fruit and nuts to dairy sponsored the activity partnering with the China Association of Bakery and Confectionery Industry.

In-store promotion product 2 using U.S. dried blueberry and California almond slices and U.S. wheat flour

In-store promotion products using U.S. dried blueberry and California almond slices and U.S. wheat flour.

ATO Beijing reported the activity reached an audience of over 2.5 million netizens in China through social media platforms and

over 200,000 real-time viewers through livestreaming. There was also in-store promotions at leading bakery houses in Beijing where “consumers warmly welcomed the new products featuring U.S. baking ingredients,” ATO Beijing reported. Additionally, ATO Beijing strengthened connections with baking associations and businesses and generated trade leads with this activity. Read more here.

USW Beijing Technical Specialist Ting Liu and Marketing Specialist Kaiwen Wu played direct roles representing the essential quality of flour from U.S. wheat in the events. In the three full marketing years since the trade war ended, China has imported a total of more than 168 million bushels (4.58 million metric tons) of U.S. hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and soft red winter (SRW) wheat, and have already imported almost 23 million bushels of U.S. wheat in the current marketing year that ends May 31, 2023.

Helping a Mexican Baker Expand Sales

In a technical support activity demonstrating to Mexican bakers how to extend their product lines using U.S. wheat flour, USW Mexico City enlisted Baking

U.S. Wheat consultant Didier Rosada

Didier Rosada

Consultant Didier Rosada to conduct an in-depth, multi-day workshop for one of the top three baking groups in Mexico. The commercial baker selected their best 25 master bakers to learn how to produce internationally recognized sourdough, functional breads, and savory breads for retail bakery sales. Rosada also demonstrated how to standardize pre-fermentation and natural sourdough processes to optimize production efficiency, products consistency, and quality in every store.

Baking is changing in a good way,” Rosada said. “At my bakery, my process is as natural as possible, with long fermentation time, like it used to be done, to bring back the flavor profile of a good bread, its shelf life and texture, etc. And U.S. wheat classes are perfect for that. I am using a flour that is almost 100 percent hard red winter or sometimes combined with hard red spring wheat.”

Mexico is the leading importer of U.S. wheat in the world.

Healthier Wheat Foods for Older Taiwanese Consumers

Chinese wheat foods seminar

Well-known Taiwanese chefs demonstrated healthy Chinese wheat food products .

USW Taipei collaborated with the Department of Food and Beverage Management of Shih Chien University (USC) to conduct workshops on Chinese Wheat Food for the Elderly in October 2022. Chinese wheat foods are popular but a survey by the university indicated that more than 60% of elderly Taiwanese are not satisfied with the healthiness of the products.

USW Taipei Country Director Boyuan Chen and Technologist Wei-lin Chou invited well-known Taiwanese chefs to teach methods for making healthy handmade noodles, pan-fried stuffed buns, silk thread rolls, and pan-fried sweet potato pastry as well as steamed breads using U.S. wheat white flour and whole wheat flour. The 40 participants included teachers, students, and long-term elderly care community volunteers who made pan-fried stuffed buns for the elderly just after the workshop.

U.S. wheat imports by Taiwan have averaged 43.2 million bushels (1.18 million metric tons) of HRS, HRW and SW per year since 2017/18.

Continuing Milling Education Interrupted by COVID in Korea

USW Seoul had started to educate Food Technology undergraduate students at Won Kwang University about the fundamentals of U.S. wheat and flour milling technology in 2018. USW Seoul Food/Bakery Technologist Shin Hak (David) Oh resumed that effort this year. The goal is to give these future industry professionals a better understanding of why flour products from U.S. wheat make superior quality ingredients for Korean wheat foods. The early exposure to U.S. wheat and the value-added technical support from USW also builds future productive relationships.

On average the past five marketing years, South Korean millers have imported about 56.7 million bushels (1.54 million metric tons) of U.S. HRW, HRS, SW and SRW wheat per year.

USW Baking Technogist Shin Hak Oh lecturing to Korean food industry students on U.S. wheat and milling technology

USW Baking Technogist Shin Hak Oh lecturing to Korean food industry students on U.S. wheat and milling technology

U.S. Soft Wheat Best for Cookies, Cakes

USW Cape Town sent six participants from a large South African food company to a specialty soft wheat flour course at the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, Ore., earlier in 2022. The course focused on cookies, crackers, and cakes made with flour from SRW and SW compared to flour from local and imported hard wheat that is used in South Africa. The participants also visited local grocery stores to gain insight into the many, varied U.S. products made from soft wheat flours.

USW Cape Town Regional Director Chad Weigand accompanied the food industry professionals to the course. He said participants were very impressed with the course results and comparative product quality, and he expected the company to begin testing products made with U.S. soft wheat flour.

Read more here about the South African wheat market.

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In an example of USW’s commitment to service, it has combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. Headline photo: USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung leading a bread baking course at the UFM Baking and Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of UFM)

Expanding the window of time breads and cakes remain fresh would help retailers, food distributors and bakers around the world broaden their customer bases and grow their businesses. It would also benefit the U.S. wheat industry, which provides a key ingredient for baked goods in international markets.

But can the window really be expanded? U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes it can.

In an example of USW’s commitment to service, the organization’s technical staff and consultants have combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. USW has “explored all possibilities” to develop processes and procedures that result in products remaining fresh for days – even weeks – longer than current standards.

Eager to Share the Knowledge

USW, which plans to conduct educational courses late next year or early in 2024 to share what it has learned on the topic, is confident its classrooms will be full.

Most of USW’s work on extending shelf life has been conducted in Southeast Asia, but the lessons learned apply to every bakery across the globe.

“In Southeast Asia, a typical shelf life of bread is seven days, and the maximum shelf life is about 10 days,” explained USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung, who is based in Singapore. “For large bakeries and food distributors, extending it beyond that 10 days would mean they could sell baked goods in towns and villages farther away from their manufacturing base. Retail markets would benefit. Consumers would benefit. Everyone up and down the supply chain would benefit, too.”

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of baked goods.

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of bread and other baked goods. Lessons taught in the courses will apply to bakeries in every region of the world.

The ‘Squeeze Test’

Shelf life is defined as “the time during which a freshly-manufactured product remains acceptable to the consumer.”  Of course, consumers in each region have different tastes and preferences, but the main goal of extending shelf life is universal: The product must pass the “squeeze test.”

The test plays out every day, in every grocery or supermarket. A shopper eases up to a bakery shelf, positions a hand over an unsuspecting loaf of bread and gently squeezes in order to judge the freshness of a prospective purchase.

USW’s work aims to help more loaves and baked goods pass the squeeze test long after leaving a baker’s oven. The result would be more consumers in more places having the ability to purchase the products. That in turn creates more demand for U.S. wheat.

Enemies of Shelf Life

According to Chung, the two major factors that lead to failure in extending shelf life are mold and staling.

“These are separate issues that must be tackled separately, and those are the things we have been working on,” he said. “The mold problem involves things like sanitation, moisture, temperature, relative humidity, water activity and the use of preservatives. The staling problem involves formulation and ingredients selection.”

Tools and formulas in the effort are many, including natural gums and enzymes, sugars and fats, and chemical additives and alternatives to chemical additives. Packaging innovations are being addressed, too, such as packing bread and other baked goods in airtight plastic under a modified atmosphere.

The tools and formulas used are designed to match consumer preferences.

For example, the European market is less accepting of additives. The typical shelf life of a loaf of bread was traditionally one day, but now is 2 to 3 days.

“This is achieved either by using very high-quality wheat such as hard red winter (HRW) or hard red spring (HRS), which have a slower rate of natural staling than some lower-cost wheats,” Peter Lloyd, USW Regional Technical Manager based in Morocco, said. “Our efforts in the European Union and Middle East regions also promotes the use of HRS wheat in bread as a way of getting to cleaner labeling (less additives), a growing issue in that part of the world.”

Longer Shelf Life, Cleaner Labels

The various requirements and preferences in different countries and regions makes the USW effort to extend shelf life of breads and baked goods an ideal subject for baker education.

And a perfect topic for USW’s planned training course and technical support for its overseas customers.

“There are many details involved in achieving the ultimate goal of reaching more consumers with quality bakery products made with U.S. wheat,” said Chung. “We are planning to offer a course that addresses all those details, and from the conversations we have had, there is tremendous interest everywhere.”

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USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Administrator Daniel Whitley recently returned from leading a U.S. trade mission to the Philippines. The mission’s objective was to help foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States and the Philippines. The mission included representatives from 29 U.S. agribusinesses and farm organizations and 10 state departments of agriculture who are interested in exploring export opportunities in the Philippines.

Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, Red Lake Fall, Minn., shared his experience on the trade mission that included meetings with U.S. wheat customers in the Philippines.

People Make It A Small World

“Participating in the trade mission, I was reminded how big this world physically is and the miracle of modern transportation. However, from a human perspective, it is a small world,” Vogel said. “The concerns about geopolitics, world wheat supplies, market volatility, and weather were the exact same questions domestic buyers ask me about hard red spring [HRS] wheat. People are people the world over.

“A key takeaway from this trade mission is the value U.S. wheat farmers receive from the continued efforts of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its staff, who set up meetings, tours, and dinners with millers, bakers and associations. Some themes became apparent. USW staff has developed deep and genuine relationships with these HRS buyers and end users. They provide technical skills and resources to assist these partners in maximizing use, expanding markets and product lines, and improving business. The consistent quality of HRS provided by U.S. growers, including from Minnesota, is essential to the value proposition USW utilizes. In the face of a rising U.S. dollar and uncertain geopolitics, these relationships are critical to continued success.”

Meeting Wheat Customers

USW Country Director Joe Bippert and the USW Manila team arranged a tour and meeting with Gardenia Bakery, a large commercial bread and wheat food company in Manila, for Vogel. In addition, Vogel and Bippert met with leaders of the Filipino Chinese Bakery Association.

Vogel’s photo at the top of this page is from a visit to the flagship store of Eng Bee Tin, an over 90-year-old landmark in the heart of the oldest Chinatown in the world. Eng Bee Tin produces hopia, a popular snack in the Philippines.

“We met wonderful, hospitable and genuine people in Manila, and I was happy to let them know how much our wheat growers in Minnesota and across the country appreciate their support for our products,” Vogel said.

Customer meeting during Philippines trade mission

Valued Customers. (L-R) Charlie Vogel and Joe Bippert met with Royce Gerik Chua, Eng Bee Tin, Jerry Midel, Philippine Society of Baking, and Henry Ah, Liberty Food Mart, during the FAS trade mission to the Philippines in July 2022.

World’s Most Reliable

USW and its legacy organizations have maintained an office in the Philippines for almost 60 years. Flour millers in the Philippines rely on U.S. HRS, soft white and hard red winter milling wheat to meet the growing demand for wheat foods in the island nation. Administrator Whitley also noted that the Philippines is the eighth-largest market for U.S. agricultural and food products, with even more potential. There is a reason for that, he said.

“Everywhere I go, trading partners are looking for a reliable supplier. And they view American agriculture to be the most reliable in the world,” Whitley said. “That, along with our outstanding qualities and the fact that we are embracing the challenge to produce commodities that are more sustainable.”

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Low-income consumers in import-dependent countries will face the greatest hardships as the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors push world food prices higher. That is one conclusion from a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) analysis released in April. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is a cooperating partner with FAS export market development programs.

Bullish Since Late 2020

The FAS analysis looked at factors that affected world food prices in late 2020. They include increased demand led by China, drought-reduced supplies, tighter wheat, corn and soybean stocks in major exporting countries, and high energy prices that have raised farm production costs. The report said Russia’s attack on Ukraine has disrupted Black Sea agricultural exports, pushing prices even higher, and exacerbating high energy and fertilizer costs.

Chart showing world food prices near record levels

China is one of the leading countries ramping up imports, with import volume doubling in 2020/21 as State Trading Enterprises helped replace and rebuild aging government reserves. Demand for feed-quality wheat also surged.

Protecting Domestic Supplies

In addition, the report stated that world food prices were up in part because 11 countries had implemented export bans for products ranging from wheat, wheat flour, barley, rye, corn, and oilseeds, to lentils, fava beans, and pasta. That list includes Russia, which had already imposed an export tax in 2021. And in early May, the potential impact of a severe heatwave in India brought rumors its government was contemplating some export restrictions.

Interestingly, the FAS report acknowledged that global wheat production was adequate in 2020/21 and only one percent below consumption requirements in 2021/22 on an aggregate level.

Related to wheat supply, USW President Vince Peterson recently offered a more nuanced observation of the situation for the world’s wheat buyers.

“The bottom line for wheat-dependent importers in the short term is not necessarily a supply-shortage crisis, but rather an economic-financial crisis caused by having to pay much higher prices in the current market scenario,” Peterson said. “It is also a logistical challenge for the world to efficiently move the wheat supplies to places where they are most deficit.”

Lower Exportable Supplies

And yet, major exporters’ stocks in 2021/22 are forecast to be at their lowest levels in 10 years, putting upward pressure on global prices.

Chart shows U.S. wheat prices in relation to annual supplies among wheat exporting countries.

USW agrees that higher world food prices affect the poorest countries and households the most.

“It is so sad to think of more people being pushed into food insecurity around the world, but that is happening,” said Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission and chair of the USW and National Association of Wheat Growers Food Aid Working Group.

Schulte’s comment came as USW and NAWG welcomed recent news that the U.S. government will provide more funding for food assistance to countries in need and help cover food aid transportation costs.

“Wheat has long been the most often donated commodity for food aid programs, and wheat growers are ready again in this crisis to help ease the hunger,” Schulte added.

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Chefs, food marketers, millers and other wheat industry representatives came together in Napa, California, on April 11 to 14 for the Wheat Foods Council “Chef Workshop” and first “Future of Food Forum.” This seminar was insightful and provided a chance to advocate wheat foods to key people in the U.S. food industry.

At the Chef Workshop, chefs from major fast-food chains, restaurants from around the country, and other food service businesses got to learn more about ingredients, create food from other cultures, and collaborate with others. The Wheat Foods Council chose these chefs to participate in the Chef Workshop because of their influence within their companies. The Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) Copia campus provided state-of-the-art kitchens, a wide array of spices and ingredients, and professional chefs with real world experiences to help facilitate instruction.

Cindy Falk, Kansas Wheat Nutrition Educator, and event attendee, said “The talented chefs used a variety of wheat-based ingredients, various seasonings and cooking techniques to create pleasing flavor combinations and elegant plates that looked like works of art.”

Future of Food

On April 14, the Wheat Foods Council held its Future of Food Forum. This included a panel discussion with various professionals including farmers, millers, food marketers, food packaging experts, and one of the professional chefs from CIA.

Barb Stuckey from Mattson shared her insights on the latest food trends and explained how food goes from development and research to shelves. Tim York from the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement explained food safety and business transparency. Hayden Wands from Grupo Bimbo explained how COVID, labor shortages and geopolitical disputes have been putting mills in tough situations and how it might impact consumers down the line. Master Chef Victor Gielisse of the CIA shared about building a quality work environment. He further explained the CIA’s “Plant-Forward” initiative.

Higher Cost of Production

Finally, Ron Suppes, farmer from Dighton, Kan., a board member for the Kansas Wheat Commission [and 2007/08 Chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW)] spoke about his farm. He showed the group a price comparison of fertilizer from a few months prior and prices today. This visual really made the point that … the input price increase is not linear, and costs of farming are dramatically higher. He advocated for the work researchers are doing on wheat to help farmers find solutions and ways to use fewer inputs but still achieve high quality wheat.

Sustainability

A common theme throughout both the Chef Workshop and Future of Food Forum was sustainability, from farming, milling, food packaging and cooking. Everyone along the supply lines is working hard to make sure society is getting safe, quality food without compromising the land. The discussion with panelists examined how generations viewed sustainability and how they relate to trends. Everyone provided great input on what is important in their respective part of the food supply chain regarding sustainability, and it helped everyone understand what each other’s role involves.

The event was an excellent opportunity for everyone to gather and learn about food while connecting with others in different industries. The goal for events such as these is to help close the gap between consumers and producers.

USW shared these excerpts from Mary Marsh’s post in Kansas Wheat’s “Wheat Scoop” blog to help inform overseas milling and baking customers about Wheat Foods Council efforts to increase wheat food consumption in the United States and ideas that may be useful in other countries.

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U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has made a formal agreement to support the long-term mission of the Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales) to promote the benefits of cereals and wheat foods in a healthy human diet.

IL Cereales, Mexico City, currently reaches Mexican consumers but plans to expand its mission to Central America. Its members represent Mexico’s largest wheat foods associations. USW will share scientifically sound nutritional information, expert consultants and other resources as part of the agreement with IL Cereales. With average annual imports of more than 110 million bushels, Mexico purchases more U.S. wheat every year than any other country.

Shared Goals

“We know the U.S. wheat foods industry shares our goal to help consumers understand that cereals and wheat foods should always be part of a healthy, nutritious diet,” said José Antonio Monroy, Chairman, Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales).

Image from Wheat Foods Council to show the U.S. industry shares goals with IL Cereales

Universal Truth. Through their state wheat commission organizations, U.S. wheat farmers support the Wheat Foods Council with a shared mission with IL Cereales. Image Source.

Chairman Monroy added, “We intend to make the most of this agreement, and we thank U.S. Wheat Associates for their support.”

This agreement was concluded following a recent meeting with IL Cereales and USW in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The USW delegation included Chairman Darren Padget, Secretary-Treasurer Michael Peters, President Vince Peterson, Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier, and Regional Vice President, Mexico, Central America, Caribbean and Venezuela Mitch Skalicky. Representing IL Cereales were Chairman Monroy, Director General Dr. Luis Hernando Cervera, and José Luis Fuente, Executive Director of the Mexican Millers Association (CANIMOLT).

“In August 2022, U.S. Wheat Associates will celebrate 25 years with an office in Mexico,” said Skalicky. “This is the perfect time to work together with IL Cereales to help Latin American families better understand the health and well-being of wheat and cereal foods in their daily diet.”

Shared Responsibility

Noting the successful partnership with the Mexican wheat foods industry, USW President Vince Peterson said it is important to see that partnership from a broader perspective.

“Together, we are responsible for providing a very large proportion of the primary food and nutrition to our citizens and, more broadly, the world’s citizens,” Peterson said. “We share common goals, and we commend Mexico’s wheat food industry leaders for creating IL Cereales. It is a pleasure to be a partner and productive resource in this much-needed work.”

More on IL Cereales

Latin American Cereals Institute (IL Cereales) logoIL Cereales (Instituto Latinoamericano de Cereales) (Latin American Cereals Institute) is the only Institute in Latin America that seeks to promote, generate and disseminate rigorous scientific knowledge on the nutritional value of cereals and their derivatives. Its members represent the Mexican Millers Association (CANIMOLT), the Mexican Bakers Association (CANAINPA), the Mexican Association for Food Ingredients Suppliers for the Baking Industry (ANPROPAN), Grupo Bimbo, and the Mexican Cookie, Cracker and Pasta Manufacturers’ Association (AMEXIGAPA).

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This article on wheat digestibility is reprinted with permission from Prairie Grains and written by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI). Additional thanks to the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council, a member of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW).

In past issues of Prairie Grains Magazine, [AURI has] highlighted ongoing research investigating ways to reduce potentially reactive components of wheat, like FODMAPs and ATIs. FODMAPs are sugars, known as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. ATIs are proteins called amylase-trypsin inhibitors. Research indicates that “anti-nutrients,” such as ATIs, and fructans (a component of FODMAPs) in wheat have been identified as triggers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Not By Gluten Alone

There is a growing understanding that wheat digestibility issues may not be solely caused by gluten sensitivity but are also related to the presence of FODMAPs and ATIs. According to Dr. George Annor, assistant professor of cereal chemistry and technology at the University of Minnesota, FODMAPs are normally present in small quantities and tolerated by most.

However, foods with more than 0.3 grams per serving (the equivalent of two slices or more of bread) … can cause issues. FODMAPs are best tolerated if less than 0.3 grams per serving.

For individuals with this sensitivity, changes to wheat characteristics or processing techniques can result in more digestible products, increasing quality of life for consumers and allowing them to enjoy the health benefits of wheat products.

There is a growing understanding that wheat digestibility issues may not be solely caused by gluten sensitivity but are also related to the presence of FODMAPs and ATIs.

Conducted through a partnership between the Minnesota Wheat Research and Promotion Council (MWRPC), the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and its Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, as well as Back When Foods, Inc., this research has the potential to create new products and processes that will positively impact the entire wheat industry value chain.

The hypothesis set for this research is that ATIs and FODMAPS can be reduced through breeding programs and processing techniques (i.e. sourdough fermentation) of modern, heritage and ancient wheat. The reason this topic is important to wheat growers and the entire industry is researchers’ belief these reactive components are triggers of non-celiac gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which cause many people to avoid wheat-based products. Instead, they look for less-reactive products, thus reducing the overall consumption of wheat-based products impacting the industry overall. Until now.

The MWRPC and its partners undertook this endeavor in order to create new opportunities for wheat-based products, consumable by those with wheat digestion concerns. Additionally, the study has the potential to provide new market opportunities that could have a positive financial impact for growers, the wheat industry and Minnesota.

Sliced pan bread and artisan bread loaves for article on wheat digestibility

Research suggests that wheat breeding has not increased FODMAP nor ATI levels in modern wheat varieties.

“We have identified significant variation in FODMAP and ATI levels in a diverse panel of wheat varieties, including among modern wheat germplasm,” said Dr. James Anderson, professor of wheat breeding and genetics at the U of M. “This variation may allow us to selectively breed for lower levels of these anti-nutrients. The ancient Einkorn and Emmer wheats were consistently low in FODMAPs, and Einkorn was also low in ATIs.”

Annor said research shows that sourdough production can help reduce the amount of FODMAPS and ATIs in wheat.

“Screening the ancient, heritage and modern wheat varieties for their FODMAPs and ATI gave us important insights into how these parameters vary in different wheat varieties,” Annor said. “It was apparent that we have not inherently bred them for increased levels of FODMAPs and ATI over the years. Our study also showed that fermentation was very effective in reducing FODMAPs and ATI levels in wheat in the form of sourdough. These results tell us that sourdough production can be effectively used to reduce the levels of FODMAPs and ATIs in wheat.”

New Approaches

Coupled with breeding efforts to reduce the levels of anti-nutrients in wheat lines, the degradation of FODMAPs and ATIs through sourdough fermentation provides immediate opportunities for wheat growers to regain market share by focusing their efforts on channeling their crops directly to the ever-growing artisan bakery sector. An additional channel for growers to use the research findings is in support of ongoing breeding programs and low FODMAP certification, in which large-scale processors have shown great interest.

“Both FODMAP and ATI levels appear to be under complex genetic control,” Anderson said, “thus making the selective breeding of these traits more difficult. But I’m optimistic that we can make breeding progress.” Anderson added that new approaches involving DNA sequencing and genomic prediction will be used to enhance our breeding efforts to reduce FODMAP and ATI levels.

As the project researchers and partners continue to seek ways to have a meaningful impact on the wheat industry overall, plans are underway to continue to build upon these recent findings in a second phase that focuses on further development of wheat varieties that not only have improved digestibility but also have high amylose and resistant starch content for a lower glycemic index and improved gut health (microbiome).

Financial support for this project is provided by an Agricultural Growth, Research, & Innovation Crop Research Grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The AGRI program awards grants, scholarships and cost shares to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries.

For more information about the AGRI program, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/agri. To learn more about AGRI Crop Research Grants, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/cropresearch. For more information, and to follow this research, visit www.auri.org/agri.

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The U.S. Grain Chain, a farm to fork coalition of stakeholders in the grain industry chaired by the American Bakers Association (ABA), is celebrating the recommendation published Dec. 29, 2020, in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) to “consume half of your grains from whole grain sources” and the remainder from enriched grains. A foundational piece of the DGAs, the guidelines recognize whole grains are “one of the three food groups that are fundamental constituents of a healthy dietary pattern.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) oversee and publish the Dietary Guidelines, the cornerstone of all Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education guidelines. The guidelines shape consumer health decisions and doctor recommendations.

Of importance, the DGAs maintained the existing recommendation for the average healthy American adult to consume six one-ounce (28.4 gram) servings of grain foods daily, with half of those servings coming from whole grains.

For the first time, the DGAs included recommendations for birth to two years. The Grain Chain applauded the recognition of grains as one of the traditional, nutritious first foods for infants. Numerous research studies have demonstrated significant, positive effects of nutrient absorption, improved nutrition quality, and overall wellness from enriched grains at various life stages.

Source: www.gograins.org.

The key takeaways from the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for the grains-based foods industry:

  • Grains, both enriched and whole, play a key role in healthy dietary patterns and diet quality;
  • Grains are a significant contributor of dietary fiber, a generally under-consumed nutrient for Americans;
  • Grains contribute to overall diet quality through key essential nutrients;
  • Grains are a delicious, versatile, affordable, and sustainable plant-based food;
  • Enrichment and fortification of grains are key contributors to positive public health impacts.

Since folic acid fortification of enriched grain foods became required in 1998, the prevalence of babies born with neural tube defects (NTDs) has decreased by 35% in the United States, leading the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to name folic acid fortification of enriched grains one of the top 10 public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.

The DGAs included guidance on enriched grains, maintaining the existing recommendation of three one-ounce servings of enriched grains daily. While the guidelines cite science-backed evidence of positive health outcomes from the inclusion of enriched grains, the Grain Chain is extremely concerned to see the DGAs include contradictory language linking “refined grains” with poor dietary patterns and health outcomes.

Published scientific research clearly and unequivocally illustrates the key roles of grains – both enriched and whole – in healthy dietary patterns and their significant contributions to diet quality. To clarify and correct potential consumer confusion resulting from this contradictory language, the members of the Grain Chain look forward to partnering with the USDA and HHS to help educate the public on the value of both enriched and whole grains.

Source: www.gograins.org.

More information about grains can be found at GoGrains.org.

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Editor’s Note: Even though the Wheat Foods Council (WFC) is focused on demand for wheat foods in the United States, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) sees significant innovation and efficiency in WFC’s marketing efforts. We believe there are concepts in its work that our overseas customers will find useful.

The Wheat Foods Council (WFC) includes members from all sectors of the wheat value chain: growers, millers, bakers, suppliers and others. WFC develops sound educational and promotional nutrition programs that reach health and nutrition professionals, opinion leaders, media, and consumers. Our key audiences are registered dietitians, personal trainers, chefs and health-conscious consumers. WFC reaches out to each of these audiences as part of its mission to help increase awareness of dietary grains as an essential component of a healthful diet.

Here is a more detailed look at how WFC works to influence two of these groups.

In 2015, WFC identified that personal trainers are a critical target. With 300,000 trainers across the United States, our research showed they gave a lot of advice to clients about nutrition, especially concerning weight loss and maintenance, without having the knowledge base to do so effectively and correctly. Unfortunately, much of their advice was negative to wheat foods. Because this influential group’s advice not only reaches their 4 to 6 million clients per week, but also affects the 32 to 48 million family and friends that these clients talk to, we started providing positive information about wheat food nutrition that disputes the negative claims in fad diets like low-carb, Paleo, Keto and others.

In 2019, WFC exhibited at “Idea World,” a trade conference for 12,000 personal trainers, fitness instructors, gym owners and other fitness industry representatives.

WFC also targets accomplished chefs that set the menus for major restaurant chains, universities, event centers and other places that feed millions of people to educate them about new and exciting ways to utilize wheat foods and enriched wheat flour in their menus. We hold a custom seminar with the Culinary Institute of America to educate these chefs and give them a hands-on opportunity in the Culinary Institute kitchens. We are currently developing an online program with the Culinary Institute to reach chefs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo caption, above: The delicious results of a WFC 2019 promotional event at the Culinary Institute of America promoting innovative wheat foods.

Quick Pivot Needed

When we began our 2019/20 fiscal year back in July 2019, we had a clear strategy and a lot of great programs planned to reach our targets.  It all went well through our very successful Annual Meeting in Atlanta … then the world changed. One after another, the most important events on our schedule to educate our target audiences were all cancelled due to COVID-19.

In March, our team quickly pivoted to producing short videos delivered on social media to our target audiences of Personal Trainers, dietitians and other fitness and nutrition professionals. These videos feature WFC experts, infographics, wheat facts, debunking of fad diets, advice from elite athletes and top nutritionists, as well as delicious recipes. We are thrilled that despite the challenges of COVID-19, WFC maintained our influencer educational outreach with a high level of success, surpassing 1.5 million video “views” by late September! We are now investing more in the video campaign and its reach continues to grow.

Views of Wheat Foods Council videos steadily increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is also important for WFC to measure how we are delivering a return on investment for our members and the industry. For example, at our 2020 virtual Summer Meeting, we shared the results of a recent survey of Personal Trainers that documented the impact WFC’s plan has achieved in just four years. Due to our efforts, considerable improvement has been made in what Personal Trainers know about wheat food nutrition today compared to a baseline survey in 2015. The important and impactful results include:

  • 89 percent of the 2,000 trainers we surveyed identified carbohydrates as a health and nutritional benefit of wheat foods made from enriched flour – only 10 percent of trainers said that in 2015;
  • 65 percent of trainers now see vitamins as a benefit of wheat foods compared to only 15% in 2015;
  • 77 percent see fiber as a benefit of wheat foods in 2020 up from 11 percent in 2015;
  • 2 percent of trainers saw no nutritional benefits from enriched wheat foods in 2020, down from 14 percent in 2015.

Expanding the reach and frequency of positive messaging about wheat foods builds demand that benefits U.S. growers, flour millers, commercial and small business bakeries and suppliers across the wheat value chain.

For more information, visit these WFC sites on the Internet:

https://www.wheatfoods.org;

https://twitter.com/WheatFoods;

https://www.facebook.com/WheatFoods;

https://www.instagram.com/wheatfoodscouncil/.

Wheat food products to illustrate Wheat Industry News

Excerpts reprinted with permission from the American Bakers Association; Read the original release here.

The “Grain Chain”, a farm to fork coalition of stakeholders in the U.S. grain industry chaired by the American Bakers Association (ABA), testified July 11, 2019, on the nutritional benefits of bread and grain-based products at the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) meeting. The recommendations in the Committee’s scientific report, due next year, will form the basis of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The DGAs are the cornerstone of U.S. federal nutrition policy and nutrition education guidelines, shaping consumer health decisions and doctor recommendations.

“The Grain Chain endorses maintaining the 2015 DGAs recommendation of carbohydrate intakes between 45-65% of calories and at a minimum, the recommended six servings daily of traditional grains with at least half as whole grains,” testified Kathy Wiemer, MS, RD, speaking on behalf of the Grain Chain. “Further, given that Americans continue to under consume whole grains, we support an increase in daily recommended Whole Grain servings, while maintaining at least three servings of enriched grains.”

Kathy Wiemer, MS, RD, testifies on behalf of the Grain Chain. Photo Credit: American Bakers Association

The testimony and written comments highlighted key recommendations:

  • Both whole and enriched grains play a leading role in diet quality
  • Enrichment, fortification of grain foods have made lasting contributions to health
  • Total grain consumption results in positive health outcomes
  • Grains are important to growth and development in infants and children
  • The current body of scientific evidence does not support a recommendation of low-carbohydrate dietary patterns to the U.S. population
  • Grain food manufacturers are constantly innovating to improve the nutritional profile of their products and deliver more health benefits to consumers

A 1990 law requires the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, and Health and Human Services, to publish nutritional and dietary guidelines for the public every five years. Members of the U.S. Grain Chain provide information to these agencies as guidelines are developed to help ensure that recommendations on grain foods consumption reflect current grain science research and data.

There is strong evidence that both whole and enriched grains are important sources of valuable nutrition and both the domestic and global baking industries continue to offer innovative, healthy grain products to meet consumer needs. Overseas, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) works on behalf of U.S. wheat producers to help bakers and wheat food processors understand the quality and value of all six classes of U.S. wheat. USW provides technical assistance and training in baking, snack food and pasta production, and sponsors participation in technical courses, workshops and seminars to help strengthen these industries.

Learn more about the nutritional value of wheat foods from the Wheat Foods Council, the Grain Foods Foundation, the National Pasta Association and the International Pasta Organization.