Educational nonprofit organization Oldways and its Whole Grains Council (WGC) will mark the first annual National Whole Grain Sampling Day on Wednesday, April 4, for which occasion they’re calling on supermarkets, foodservice outlets, restaurants, manufacturers and others to join the celebration.
The event’s mission to show consumers how delicious whole grains can be, to encourage chefs and kitchens to make whole grains part of their everyday offerings and to give manufacturers an chance to promote their latest whole grain products.
Among those that have already signed on as participants is Compass Group, a food management company serving more than 6 million diners daily, is the first to commit. The company plans to offer tastings in a variety of settings, including corporate cafes, health care facilities, and public and independent schools. “Tastings are a great way to reduce the fear of the unknown that some customers have when trying a new food,” explained Deanne Brandstetter, VP nutrition and wellness for Charlotte, N.C.-based Compass North America. “We use this strategy often to introduce new healthful foods.”
Arby’s also plans to take part. "We see this as a great opportunity to highlight the whole grain options available on every sandwich at Arby’s,” said Jo Ann Herold, the Sandy Springs, Ga.-based fast-food restaurant chain’s VP of brand marketing.
Among the event’s other partners are McDonald’s, Cooking Light magazine and Bemidji, Minn.-based specialty rice and grain provider Indian Harvest, the last of which is employing Facebook to invite its foodservice customers to come up with creative ideas for Whole Grain Sampling Day promotions – with the incentive of a free case of whole grains to those with the top five ideas.
“Research shows that taste is growing as the reason people choose whole grains, so by partnering with restaurants, food companies and the media we plan to ‘wow’ people on National Whole Grain Sampling Day,” said Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for the WGC and Oldways, both based in Boston. “All incentives -- free samples, coupons or a whole grain gift with purchase – help get whole grains into the mouths of consumers, our ultimate goal.”
Whole grain consumption is rising, due largely to increased availability of a wide range of grains for every palate. According to SPINS, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research and consulting firm, sales of natural foods and beverages with the WGC's Whole Grain Stamp grew 9.9 percent over the last year.
Supermarkets, restaurants and foodservice establishments can take part in Whole Grain Sampling Day with any type of promotion. The WGC will list all participating activities and promotions on its website.