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
  5. Food Policy

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:

These definitions are approved and endorsed by ICC, the HealthGrain Forum, and the Cereals & Grains Association.


2. 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

Output documents

3. 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

  4. International Working Group on Whole Grain Intake Recommendations

Large volumes of evidence link intake of whole-grain foods with improved health outcomes, particularly in relation to non-communicable diseases. Global recommendations for dietary intake of whole grains are complicated by evidence derived using varied determinations of whole-grain intake (eg use of foods, serves or servings rather than absolute grams) and also the culturally specific requirements for translation of evidence to the way populations consume whole grain – that is, as foods.


  • Review evidence on the effects of whole-grain intake on health outcomes (especially mortality)

  • Provide a recommendation for whole-grain intake to maximise positive health outcomes

  • Provide a framework for translation of recommendations to public health messaging


  • Synthesis of the literature on whole grains and health outcomes using grams of whole-grain intake (reviews, meta-analyses)

  • Develop a recommendation for whole-grain intake

  • Consider geographical and cultural variation to translate a scientific recommendation for whole grain intake into consumer messaging to improve health.

Chair: Eleanor Beck

  5. International Working Group on Food Policy

By consolidating the evidence on the health benefits of increased whole grain consumption, the Whole Grain Initiative members are enabled to engage policy makers and food regulatory authorities to advocate for harmonized, coherent food policies that promote the consumption of whole grains including National dietary guidelines and Front-of-Pack nutritional labelling.


  • Provide formal advocacy for inclusion of whole grains in nutritional algorithms used in front of pack labelling systems.

  • Follow-up the Front-of-Pack nutritional labelling impact assessment of the European Commission.

  • Develop a repository of current scientific literature & position/consensus documents on the role of whole grains in healthy and sustainable diets; identify key target groups for sharing such documents and gaps in current literature.

  • Provide support for events aimed at promoting whole grains (e.g. International Whole Grain Day)

ChairChristelle Avart

Output document:

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