More consumers are recognizing the value of whole grains

Consumption, consumer interest, and awareness of whole grains increased in 2023, according to a recent report from the Whole Grains Council. The 2023 Whole Grains Consumer Insights Survey, sponsored by the Oldways Whole Grains Council, compiled data from 1,500 Americans, ages 18 to 89 collected between May and June. 

Cameron Jacobs, senior director for domestic promotions, with the USA Rice Federation, says that’s good news for the US rice industry.  “Sixty-one percent of consumers indicate they choose whole grains at least half the time,” he says.  “And fifty-seven percent of respondents indicated they increased their whole grain intake over the past five years.”

He tells Brownfield that consumer acceptance has also increased, especially with younger generations.  “Of all respondents, 77% indicated that they think they should eat more whole grains, but that number jumps even higher when we start looking at the millennial age group and then next to Gen Z,” he says.  Jacobs says whole grains, like rice, resonate with more than just health-conscious consumers.  “Things like taste and sustainability,” he says.  “And just doing it out of habit because they were raised in a house where they ate whole grains and they have that pattern already.”

The survey also asked how sustainability and environmental considerations influenced food choices and diet. Jacobs says 17 percent of respondents and 24 percent of millennials reported sustainability as an important factor in purchasing whole grains.

Whole grain rice is one of the top three most consumed whole grains and is also in the top three of whole grains consumers wished they consumed more.

Arkansas is the top rice-producing state in the country, accounting for nearly 50% of U.S. rice production.  Brown rice, which is a whole grain, contains the bran and germ. 

AUDIO: Rhiannon Branch’s interview with Cameron Jacobs

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