WASHINGTON, DC, US — Even as the group continues work to seek US Department of Agriculture approval for a revised breadbasket checkoff program, the Grain Foods Foundation in recent weeks has stepped up outreach to baking executives at companies likely to be included in the program.
Christine Cochran, executive director of the GFF, said invitations have been sent to roughly half of the bakers expected to be covered by the program. Ultimately, she hopes to have meetings with the entire group.
“The GFF steering committee is talking with baking companies to better understand how a checkoff could serve the industry,” she said. “These invitations are open-ended, but the committee is setting aside considerable time for these important conversations through the end of February.”
In addition to Cochran and the invited baking executive, the discussions will include at least one member of the GFF checkoff steering committee. She said invitations are being sent to bakers “in waves.”
GFF discussions about the checkoff are not limited to bakers who will be subject to assessments under the program, Cochran said.
“We are also hearing from other partners that they continue to be excited about a breadbasket checkoff, including allied trade companies, association partners, and wheat growers,” she said. “We are reaching out to them to ask for help in getting the word out, correcting misinformation, and generally helping us to build momentum around the beautiful creative and strong strategy sitting before the industry with this checkoff opportunity. Their insights, critiques and encouragement are helpful.”
One such discussion will be held Dec. 3, when the GFF has a call scheduled with numerous wheat chain groups, including the National Association of Wheat Growers, US Wheat, the North American Millers’ Association and Kansas Wheat Growers. More than showing curious interest, Cochran said certain groups have been supportive and have grower members interested to know “how they can help us get it up and running.”
Meanwhile, support for the GFF remains strong, Cochran said. The Mennel Milling Co. and King’s Hawaiian Bakery have recently become GFF investors for the first time. She said the foundation also is looking forward to the roll out in January of its most recent scientific paper. The consensus statement, penned by a panel of nutrition experts, uses existing scientific literature to raise awareness about the healthfulness of whole and enriched grains.