USA— The Grain Foods Foundation (GFF) has petitioned the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to withdraw a federal order known as the Wheat Flour Foods Promotion, Research, and Information Order from further consideration.

The Order was the result of a 2016 checkoff feasibility study, undertaken by GFF at the request of members common to both the American Bakers Association and GFF, to analyze the implications of the decline in the per capita consumption of wheat flour in the US.

The work included a review of potential creative assets to be utilized in a consumer campaign promoting wheat-based foods and a proposed framework for scientific research, undertaken to protect the market for the industry’s products.

The Order would have established a mandatory funding mechanism for promoting the wheat-based grain foods category.

If accepted by the Department, the withdrawal would cancel the pending publication of the Order in The Federal Register, a subsequent public comment period, and following that, an industry referendum.

The petition comes after a May 10 vote by the GFF Board of Trustees expressing strong support for the withdraw.

GFF leaders did not directly address why the petition was submitted but emphasized the need for the foundation to continue advancing its mission to elevate the public’s perception of grain-based foods.

“As vested stakeholders in this industry GFF supports, the board agreed that the checkoff conversation has become a distraction to the work GFF needs to do on behalf of the whole industry,” said Kirk Stehr, GFF co-chair and senior vice president of Grain Craft.

No one in our industry has been untouched by the realities of the COVID pandemic, labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and commodity market volatility,” stated Vince Melchiorre, GFF Board member and senior vice president and general manager, Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Melchiorre added that the way forward for the milling industry is by understanding that the checkoff opportunity is not an ideal fit for the industry.

Rather, he advocates belief in the incredible story around the products they make, and for GFF to that deliver research leadership and thought advocacy. GFF anticipates USDA will confirm the withdrawal of the Order in the coming days.  

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