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Decline in wholegrain bread

Wholegrain breads.
Photo: Pexels/Marianna Ole

Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that Australian adults eat six servings of grains daily, preferably as wholegrains. Yet most Australians consume less than four servings a day, with less than one-third of grain intake coming from wholegrains1.

Wholegrains are linked to improved digestive function and a reduced risk of major conditions that impact Australians every day, including type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease2. While some consumers understand the benefits of wholegrains, others require more information to switch to wholegrain products and need support in identifying them3.

The humble loaf of bread presents a convenient and easily accessible way to increase wholegrain intake and fill nutrient gaps.

To understand the state of the bread market in Australia, the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) conducted a bread audit in November 2023 across major retailers in metropolitan Sydney. A total of 794 bread products were collected including loaves, flatbreads, rolls and sweet bread (including brioche and fruit bread) and bakery breakfast (including bagels, crumpets and English muffins) categories. Compared with refined bread, wholegrain bread offers several nutritional benefits, including higher protein and dietary fibre and lower sodium and sugar per serve. Despite these benefits, only 17 per cent of bread products collected in the audit were wholegrain.

Further, of the 132 products eligible to display a wholegrain claim on the packaging, only 96 products did so, making it challenging for consumers to identify and choose wholegrain bread products.

Compared with GLNC’s last bread audit in 2021, there has been a decline in both the availability of wholegrain breads and wholegrain claims made on packaging.

Increasing the availability of wholegrain bread and advocating for more prominent wholegrain labelling on packaging will enable consumers to make more informed choices about the bread they eat and allow them to reap the benefits of wholegrains, ultimately improving health outcomes.

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2022-23).
Apparent Consumption of Selected Foodstuffs, Australia. ABS.

2 McRae MP (2017). Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 16(1).

3 Foster S, Beck E, Hughes J & Grafenauer S. (2020). Whole Grains and Consumer Understanding: Investigating Consumers’ Identification, Knowledge and Attitudes to Whole Grains. Nutrients, 12(8), 2170.

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