Activities of the Whole Grain Initiative

To drive whole grain acceptance and product availability, and to create and execute appropriate communication and education programs Whole Grain Summit participants identified the following four key goals: 


  1. Develop Global Definitions of Whole Grain and Whole Grain Food
  2. Create an Intake Recommendation for Whole Grains
  3. Examine Whole Grains' Impact on Sustainability
  4. Promotion and Education of Whole Grains and Health

To carry out the action points necessary to meet these key goals, the following international working groups have been initiated by the Whole Grain Initiative:

1. International Working Group on Whole Grain Definition(s) 

Definitions are needed to ensure that all global stakeholders (academics, industry, public and government agencies) are on the same page to achieve not only scientific compliance but also transparency for consumers.


  • Reach consensus on a global definition of whole grain raw materials
  • Reach consensus on a whole grain food definition


  • Discuss a global definition of whole grain (raw materials) using existing definitions and their respective rationales as a starting point.
  • Work on relations between a global definition and existing regional/national definition(s).
  • Follow a similar process for defining a whole grain food definition.

Chair: Jan Willem van der Kamp

Output documents:

This definition is approved and endorsed by ICC, the HealthGrain Fourm, and the Cereals & Grains Association.

 2. International Working Group on Whole Grain Intake Recommendation(s) 

Studies show people eating more whole grains have reduced risks of chronic diseases and mortality compared to those eating less. Although many countries include some form of recommendations on how to choose whole grain-based foods in their Dietary Guidance, not all provide recommendations on the amount of whole grains that should be incorporated daily into the diet. Current estimates show that whole grain intake remains low in many countries and increasing whole grain intake would translate into improved health globally. This working group will focus on current intake recommendations and identify next steps required to increasing whole grain intake globally.


  • Reach consensus on recommended quantitative whole grain intake.

Proposed Activities:

  • Identify and catalogue current food and nutrient databases with data on whole grain foods and products.
  • Create a document to highlight the discrepancies in whole grain databases around the globe.
  • Create an interactive map showing the recommended intakes around the globe.
  • Compile a quantitative database with data on gram of whole grains per food or product and apply database to existing FFQs in cohort studies around the globe.
  • Examine the basis upon which a whole grain intake recommendation could be based.
  • Standardize the scientific evidence of health benefits of increasing whole grain intake Document the health evidence for a variety of whole grain intakes.

Chair: Nicola McKeown

 3. International Working Group on the Economic Evaluation of Increased Whole Grain Intake 

Higher whole grain intakes have been associated with reductions in risk of multiple disease states, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. As a result of the large financial burden these disease place on both the public and private sectors, there is a need to understand what role whole grains may play to alleviate some of this burden. Economic modelling based on existing data may provide data necessary to convince governments to support higher whole grain intakes in their nutrition recommendations and policies.


  • Give insight into the economic impact of whole grains and health care costs relative to increasing whole grain consumption beyond current levels.


  • Calculate / estimate the effects of different whole grain intake levels on a variety of health risk factors.
  • Model the data on estimated health benefits relative to health care costs and consequently the reduction of these cost.
  • Compile information package/dossier for external distribution to stakeholders, including Non-Government Organizations.

Chair: Jan de Vries

 4. International Working Group on Best Practices for Public-Private Partnerships & Communication

Established Public-Private Partnerships, such as the Danish Whole Grain Partnership, demonstrating that it is more impactful to work together to increase whole grain consumption and to disseminate authoritative whole grain statements and campaigns. These best practices as well as evidence-based whole grain information shall be collected and made easily accessible to any interested parties.


  • Create cohesive and consistent messaging and strategies around the promotion of whole grains, understanding that leveraging partnerships and aligning communications amplifies whole grain messaging and helps capture consumer attention.
  • Provide a framework that can be used in communities/countries/regions around the globe to bring together members of industry, government, academia, and/or health organizations in win-win partnerships that promote health and well-being through increased whole grain consumption.


  • Organize an annual event that brings together partners and stakeholders from around the world to raise awareness and create cohesive messaging around whole grains and health. (The first annual International Whole Grain Day event – held on 19 November, 2019 – came out of the efforts of this working group).
  • Create a toolkit that includes support materials, resources, and best practices for creating public-private partnerships (PPPs), along with clearly outlined steps for bringing various stakeholders together around a common mission and/or project.
  • Establish a panel or advisory board of people who are willing to provide additional resources and assistance for new PPPs as they get off the ground.

Chair: Caroline Sluyter

 5. International Working Group on Sustainability of Whole Grains

A recently published report recommended that whole grains in the diet could help improve public health and the sustainability of the food supply. Cereal grain and other grain crops are grown in all regions around the world, but their impact and role in the sustainable food supply has not been previously assessed. To better understand the relationship between whole grains, health, and sustainability, our working group pursues systems approaches to assess and evaluate the environmental, economic, health, and social impacts of whole grain production and consumption.


  • Develop data that will clarify the role that cereal grains might play in promoting the most sustainable food supply.
  • Evaluate the whole grain supply chain to build a holistic understanding of whole grain sustainability.


  • Establish evidence-based sustainability platforms that support production and consumption of whole grains.
  • Convene global sustainability leaders to prioritize sustainability initiatives.
  • Create knowledge of the whole grain supply chain to understand production, economic, acceptability, environment, and societal impacts.
  • Build models and tools to focus and leverage sustainability research projects.
  • Develop standardized systems and design approaches, disseminate best practices, and facilitate training.

Chair: Keagan Ringling

 All relevant experts worldwide are invited to participate in the WGI working groups, please just contact us!