SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Supermarket bakeries could raise their sales by pushing bread's nutritional qualities via the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid.
That's what Judi Adams, president of the Englewood, Colo.-based Wheat Foods Council, told attendees at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's first bakery symposium, held here the day prior to the association's annual convention.
"Awareness of nutrition is at an all-time high, but actual knowledge remains low," Adams said, adding that the time is thus ripe to introduce customers to the pyramid and to offer nutrition information to supplement it.
"Retailers need to help promote bread as a healthy choice, as a product that's generally low in fat, a top source of fiber, a top source of complex carbohydrates, a convenient and plentiful grain-based food that's inexpensive," she said.
"I know retailers have been reluctant to use the Food Guide Pyramid because they think it might hurt sales of their sweet goods, which are 70% of bakery sales. But, while we don't have figures that show that the Food Guide Pyramid increases sales of sweet goods, I know it increases sales in the other 30%," Adams added.
"It also counts to get customers into the bakery. Get them into the bakery with a nutrition message, and they'll maybe buy some sweet goods on impulse," she said.
She pointed out that consumers, even though health-conscious, continue to treat themselves. "We want them to treat themselves with a cake or pie, not ice cream or some other snack," she said.
Urging the use of the Food Guide Pyramid as an educational tool, Adams said a Gallup Organization poll commissioned earlier this year by the Wheat Foods Council shows that 56% of Americans are somewhat or very familiar with the pyramid. That compares with 1993 when a similar Gallup study showed that only 27% were somewhat or very familiar with it.
"That shows we've made some progress, but the same poll shows that 40% of Americans think bread is fattening. That percentage has dropped only 10 points since the 1993 study," Adams said. Older people are less familiar with the Food Guide Pyramid, Adams said. "They've been taught that four servings of grain products are enough," she said, pointing out that it's the responsibility of retailers to help educate that age group about the six to 11 servings that the pyramid recommends.
Adams said summaries of the Gallup Organization survey and reproducible copies of the pyramid and the Wheat Foods Council logo, which says "Enjoy More of a Good Thing," are available from the council.