RIDGWAY, COLORADO, U.S. — The Wheat Foods Council (WFC) has adopted a new strategic plan that seeks to identify new target audiences and establish messaging priorities developed through dialogue with producers, millers and bakers. Tim O’Connor, president of the WFC, spearheaded the plan, which was unveiled at the organization’s annual meeting Jan. 13-14 in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.

Tim O’Connor, president of the WFC.
Tim O’Connor, president of the WFC.

“I’m excited about our new plans,” O’Connor said. “We have identified a number of initiatives we will be able to implement immediately, giving us a jump-start on our new strategies for next fiscal year’s programming, which begins in July 2016.”

In developing the plan, the WFC followed several guidelines: focus on ideas appropriate for the WFC to undertake; look for the opportunities with the greatest return on investment and upside potential; and identify the industry’s biggest programs for which WFC could provide solutions.

“This was a well thought-out strategy development process that ultimately will further increase the already significant value proposition of the Wheat Foods Council to its stakeholders,” said Don Brown, chairman of the WFC and vice-president of sales at Ardent Mills. “All members played an important role in defining our target audiences and message priorities, and we benefited greatly from their knowledge and expertise.”

The WFC said it based its plan off of dialogue with representatives across the wheat industry, as well as through insight obtained through a WFC -funded survey of medical doctors, registered dietitians and personal trainers.

“The survey strongly reinforced the importance of additional education for key influencer groups,” O’Connor said. “We identified personal trainers as a category of particular interest for targeting new educational programs due to their strong relationship with consumers as a go-to source for health and nutrition information.“

He added that registered dietitians, with whom the WFC has developed a strong relationship over several decades, will continue to be an important part of the association’s influencer education mix.

In terms of messaging, O’Connor said the WFC’s new plan calls for greater emphasis on further education of influencers and consumers about the significant health benefits of enriched wheat products. Specifically, he said the group will look at “demystifying” the milling process.

“We will be working with our advisory board to take a closer look at the science around ‘enriched,’ and will use this information as the basis for future programs,” O’Connor said. “We know previous efforts have been made to support enriched products by the industry. Our new strategy seeks to build on those initiatives and will take new approaches to advance the image of enriched wheat products.”

Another key area identified in the strategic plan is to develop education and messaging to influencer groups that focus on wheat and wheat breeding.

“With wheat producers as the core members of the WFC, this fits perfectly in our wheelhouse,” O’Connor said. “The WFC will be developing new program elements that proactively address the misinformation in the media and on the web surrounding this topic.”