The consumption data for cereal and grain-based foods are intertwined with a number of trends. Demographics, different lifestyles and consumer behavior (toward food habits and food preferences) are the main factors influencing trends in the world. Consumer trends affecting the movement of grain-based foods through the food system include food market trends, food processing / production trends, and agricultural trends. Trends in the consumption of cereal crops will be driven mainly by the marketing, accessibility, food safety in the food system, the increase and development of demand for ready-to-eat food, and out-of-home consumption.
Asst. Prof. Y. Birol SAYGI
Vocational School of Tourism and Hotel Management
Department of Gastronomy and Culinary Arts
Food is an integral part of the daily life. Beyond being a simple everyday routine, food is important for human health and well-being. Nutrition means to take each energy and nutritional ingredient, which is required for human development and growth, tissue renewal and work, at adequate and balanced quantities and to use these in the body appropriately. In nutrition, the diversity of food and the intake of determined food are important. These food types are categorized into four groups: milk and milk products’ group, meat, egg and legume group, vegetable and fruit group, and bread and grain group. The consumption of cereal and cereal products is as old as human history, and they have an important place in our nutrition.
Food processing started in prehistoric ages. In parallel with the increase in agriculture and animal husbandry, it has become inevitable to reduce losses due to the deterioration of food and to protect our food to survive in times of famine. Food is structurally complex and consumer preferences are at the forefront. Consumer preferences are the intersection of many factors. We can detail the factors that influence food selection as follows.
1. Physiological Factors: Physiological factors affect the body’s need and nutrition desire. The body should have enough nutrients to keep itself healthy and to work properly. Physiological factors are influenced by the person’s hunger level, appetite, nutritional requirements (body size / type, age, activity level, gender, health status), person’s eating and drinking habit, values, beliefs and attitudes, habits and ego.
2. Psychological Factors: In our food choices, psychological factors play a more dominant role than other factors. Psychological factors consist of motivation, intuition, learning, perception, attitude and personality.
3. Social Factors: Cultures or societies in which people live have influenced food choices, with contacts that individuals have with each other (social factors). Beliefs, traditions and taboos are influential factors. In addition to this, the media, a part of daily life, has an unquestionable effect on people’s food choice. When choosing food, the importance of lifestyle, work and education, family size and the place and importance hospitality within the social group are also important: Culture, Subculture and Traditions, Lifestyle (occupation, education, geography (ecology), social interaction, family, household structures and roles), roles and status, social class and social interaction, reference groups, media, peer groups form social factors of hospitality at home.
Culture determines the lifestyle of mankind as a member of society. Society’s consumption patterns, needs, priority order of needs and satisfaction of needs are functions of culture. Cultural values affect the consumer behavior and, therefore, consumption. Cultural values are learned through social interaction in the family, school and workplace, and strongly influence individual behavior. Culture is the most important determinant of one’s desires and behaviors.
Each culture is made up of smaller subcultures that describe its members more specifically and describe socialization. Nationalities, religions, racial groups and geographical regions form a subculture. Groups with subculture religion, racial, national, local, and similar common feature create subcultures.
Traditions are phenomena that are repeated at a certain time by a group or community member. Special days include many traditional and special foods. Celebrations and social gatherings usually involve food and food is usually the focus of the event. Family traditions often revolve around food, as are many important social and cultural traditions in society. For example, birthdays are celebrated with cake, and the Easter is celebrated with boiled and colored eggs or chocolates.
4. Economic Factors: Economic conditions, cost of food, available resources and occupational and financial power are sub-factors.
These factors have a strong impact on consumer behavior with regard to food and grain. Consumer desires and concerns dominate consumer needs today and play a decisive role in consumer tendencies. When making consideration on the society, consumers made nutrition and grain choice by considering the social norms affecting attitudes towards food producers, concerns about food-environment, food-energy contexts and large agricultural enterprises, food safety, sustainability and concerns about wastes and losses, environmental concerns, increasing concern over obesity, and the fact that the practices of today’s developing technology, especially the processing of food, increase food insecurity. Unfortunately, social media channels are constantly changing consumer attitudes and ideas, making it difficult for the food industry to follow the consumers. In the same way, irrespective of its accuracy, the spread of fake news on food quickly shakes the reputation of nutrition. Regardless of whether the information is correct or fake, the customer’s perspective and perception guide the market.
International Consumer Trends
In all levels of income, the trend towards consumption of high-value food products is increasing globally in the society. Increasing urbanization is an important driving force while the changes in the income are affecting consumption patterns. Nutrition and grain choice are affected in a positive and negative sense because of the internet, increasing level of education and outdoor consumption, the transition to more established occupation from jobs that require more energy, and level of income. Individuals who are trapped in urban ghettos shift their diets to cheap and easily accessible calorie sources, which can be bad choices in terms of food intensities.
Together with this reality, in the developing countries such as China and Mexico, the consumer is shifting its consumption habits from nutrition diet that are rich in terms of carbohydrate and traditional grain to expensive calorie sources such as milk and meat products, breakfast cereals, frozen foods, and fast foods. The fastest growth rate in the breakfast cereal category in the market is experienced in the Asia-Pacific region because of above-mentioned factors.
Some consumption trends affect health either positively or negatively. The inclination towards consuming healthier cereals and grain products occurs globally in many regions. Besides, there is a trend toward consumption of grain-based desserts, pastries, and snacks, which cause unnecessary calorie intake and have little place in the healthy diet.
In terms of food and grain combination, as people with different ethnicity and regions gather in certain places because of urbanization, different groups met with other’s food culture; as they met with different nutrition, their interplay results in an expanding food range. Similarly, today’s travel possibilities and requirements offer people access to food cultures in different regions. Since grain-based products are considered to have a significant place in many cultural menus, these products have a high share in the interaction and expanding food range.
Tracking of Consumer Trends
International organizations and governments follow the supply and availability of grain-based food for its importance and qualities. This tracking changes from country to country. For example, the United States follows the consumer demand for nutrition through the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, and the Economic Research Service, ERS. Therefore, this data affects all areas of the processing of food, from the types of crops grown by farmers to the presentation of these products. Data of USDA and ERS on the plantation, output, storage and other important information regarding important grains (wheat and rice) and main feed grains (corn, barley, oat, and sorghum) are important sources of information on the supply of grains and storage quality. These data provide critical information on the public health and the food security for the state while these databases play a critical role in the food intake and the evaluation of risks on a possible threat to nutrition.
Likewise, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, WHO, and the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO, gather statistics on grain and other types. Even though, generally speaking, states gather data specific to that country and region, international organizations gather data beneficial to the public and states on the food quality and availability.
Regardless of for what purpose this data is collected, the data on food helps to follow the changes in consumers’ food intake patterns. Additionally, this data make it easier to distinguish what might be trendy, useful in predicting the types and quantities that would be needed in terms of nutrition and the market. Trends are published in areas especially in health and medicine, energy and environment, employment and income factors, and agricultural economies that intersect with the nutrition and they are determined by the continuous follow-up of social media. Statements from various authorities on nutrition affect food preferences and communication. In particular, national and international legal regulations also shape what can be sold on the market and what can be said about the products. For example, in some countries, breakfast cereals are taxed as a measure of obesity. This situation causes cereal producers to reformulate the breakfast cereals with higher fiber or reduced sugar to meet legal regulations. Understanding the interaction of these factors makes it easier to predict consumer food trends.
Trends in Grain Consumption
and Its Effect on Consumers
Globally, data on the supply or lack of grain in many regions are followed. This affects crop types produced by farmers. The farmers grow their products by choosing the products according to the prices that will be shaped. Data on cultivation area, effectiveness and other important information on critical cereals (wheat and rice) and main feed grains (corn, barley, oat and sorghum) shape the grain production. Publicly available data play a critical role in the evaluation of food intake and of possible risk on food.
Trends in Wheat Consumption at Global Level
The global wheat consumption in the 1990s and in the first decade of 2000s has continued to increase because of increasing population and the level of income. In parallel with rising wealth and increasing meat consumption, the consumption of wheat and grain has increased in the animal nutrition. Besides, in some countries, the wheat consumption has decreased. For example, the wheat consumption in the United States has continued to decrease since 1997.
The consumption of wheat per person in 1879 was 102 kilograms when one out of every four worked in agricultural business or physically demanding jobs. This has decreased to 50 kilograms around the 1970s because of rising income, diversification of diets, a decline in personal energy requirement and in parallel to changes in life and work. In 1997, the consumption of wheat per person increased to 67 kilograms. The increase in per capita wheat consumption between 1973 and 1997 are triggered by the following reasons:
1. Out-of-home food consumption, changes with ready-made foods and other cereal-based foodstuffs
2. Increase in penetration of fast food like breakfast cereals into life
3. The widespread dietary guidance that encourages feeding for grains that control fat and low carbohydrate and high coronary disease,
4. Broader recognition of health benefits from high fiber, grain-based foods and particularly oat flour.
When the 30-year development of increasing wheat consumption is examined, this trend ended because of decline in personal energy expenditure in 1997, excessive weight gain and increase in chronic disease, obesity, and series of missteps in the promotion of low-fat products formulated with cereals through the focus on content quality. At the beginning of the 21st century, consumers move from low-fat diets to low-carbohydrate diets in various species. These ketogenic diets allow only 200 calories to be taken from carbohydrates. Thus, there was a decrease in carbohydrate and grain consumption. Consumer interest in low-carbohydrate diets increased after 2000. This trend continues because of nutritional literature which shows that such diets are successful for dietitians.
In whole grains, carbohydrate quality and glycemic index determine trends.
Grain and wheat products change over time. Since 2000, scientific studies on the health benefits of whole grains have been on the agenda with suggestions to substitute a part of refined and enriched grains with whole grains and grains in many countries. Efforts to increase rye, oats and all other cereals have become part of healthy nutritional recommendations. Successful promotion of grain products in Europe, particularly Italia and France, has increased the consumption of grain products. The Whole Grain Council, which has an international accessibility, documented an increase in the number of whole grain nutrition and categories.
Today’s data show that in developed countries people consumed too many refined grains and less whole grains. It is a fact that globally grain-based sweets, snacks, and beverage have an important place in the diets of children and young people, and people consume too much calorie. Since a lot of cereal-based foods offer little to the individual in terms of nutrition, it is becoming increasingly important for health workers and food industry to act together in the diversification of these foods, the right portion sizes and the creation of consumption models.
“Glycemic index (GI)” is an important parameter in nutrition within the framework of concerns on glycemic effect on foods, particularly dietary advices for diabetics, including wheat and grain products. While some countries like Australia and the United Kingdom let GI parameters to be on the label of grain-based foods, Canada, for example, decided not to give GI parameters on the label because of lack of understanding of consumers. Dietary guidelines in these countries encourage consumers to choose GI-worthy foods that are considered low to moderate in the same category of products. Such labeling affects the trend of selected cereal-based foods and shapes trends as an important parameter in the selection of carbohydrate foods.
The trend of gluten-free and avoiding
grains with wheat
Gluten-free and avoidance of wheat, gluten, and cereal have become a trend in recent years in developed countries. This trend has been exported to some developing economies and embraced in these countries. Data published in 2008 have changed the thoughts about the occurrence of celiac disease. This data pointed out that the occurrence was not one out of 2500 but rather one out of 133 and underlined the underdiagnosis. Data from the US, Finland and even Asia Pacific countries show that the frequency of celiac disease is increasing.
There is no common opinion about the frequency of gluten intolerance. There is no common opinion about the frequency of gluten sensitization. However, it is characterized by a number of symptoms, including wind and bloating. The tendency to reduce wheat and grain consumption is driven by publications, which show that modern wheat and excess consumption of grains led to obesity and other chronic diseases. These publications put their focus not only on high sugar intake but also on wheat and cereals, especially refined grains. Some publications have convinced consumers that foods labeled with gluten or without wheat are more nutritious than gluten-containing foods.
It is estimated that 6-8 percent of society should avoid gluten (wheat allergy, celiac disease and non-ethnic gluten intolerance). For this party, protection is very important. In 2014, 30 percent of North American population stays away from wheat and gluten in general. Additionally, ten percent of Australia and New Zealand population do not consume gluten-containing foods. The United Kingdom has the biggest gluten-free market in Europe. Germany has the biggest market in continental Europe. Italia and Scandinavia have an important market in gluten-free foods. However, these countries have only one percent of celiac disease. Compared to other European countries, the sales of gluten-free foods are low in France and Spain.
In term of trends, the avoidance of gluten-containing foods will be effective for a while, but this trend is expected to slow in time. Together with this, because of people with celiac disease, allergies and other gluten problems, the trend will evolve towards that point. In the future, interest in carbohydrate quality will increase. Changes in carbohydrate and grain-based food types will serve as another trendsetter.
Rice provides about 20% of the calories consumed worldwide. It is a very important source of food in feeding about half of the world population. More than 90 percent of rice is consumed in Asian countries. These counties rely on the diversity of rice while they believe in the rice’s protein content and high-calorie value. From the 1960s to 1990s, per capita rice consumption in Asia has increased from 85 kg to about 103 kg per year. Parallel to the growing population, per capita consumption more than doubled in this period.
Changes in the standard of living have changed rice consumption models. As a result of increasing prosperity in countries such as India and China, people moved to foods such as meat and similar product having high values, which in turn resulted in a slowdown in rice consumption. In some countries like Taiwan and Japan, the rice consumption has slowed down because of the Westernization of diets, shrinking families, increase in women’s entrance into employment and aging population.
However, the rice consumption has increased in the Southeast Asia (The Philippines and Indonesia), the South Asia (India and Bangladesh) and many African countries. Following Asia, the biggest rice consumption is experienced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Generally speaking, rising populations of developing economies cause an increase in overall rice consumption. For those who need to avoid gluten, rice has become an important substitute.
Together with rising incomes, in some countries, people have shifted from rice and grains to other foods while rising population in some countries fueled the rice consumption around the world as a substitute for less consumption in developed countries. In 2000, the rice production was realized as 600 MT around the globe while this amount is expected to skyrocket to 904 million tons in 2030, which amounts to a 90-times increase.
Corn, Oat and Barley
Corn, barley and oats are more widely used as animal feed than human consumption. Corn constitutes one-third of all grain production. Corn demand will increase as animal feed. Globally, the corn production has increased 50 percent because of the increase in cultivation area in Asian countries and high efficient kinds of genetically modified corn. Consumer behavior and acceptance of GMO corn in the world is an important factor, and the difficulty that the product creates for international trade and future production should be examined in detail. It is obvious that the trends in feed or food use will have a sharp impact on this phenomenon.
Only 15% of the corn, including ground corn flour and starch, sweeteners, corn oil and alcoholic beverages, is processed for human consumption. Direct use of corn as human food is unlikely to change significantly even in countries where corn is an integral part of local diets.
Oats are an important food material in northern climates and its production remained stable for the last 10 years. The EU region is the largest oat producer, and Canada is the largest exporter. The world’s largest oat consumer, the US is the fourth largest producer in the world and it is the world’s largest oat importer. Mexico is the second largest oat importer in the world and is followed by Japan. Russia, the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia are the countries that consume more oats than most of the countries. In the United Kingdom, oat accounts for 3 percent of the crop grown. However, half of the oat product is used for human consumption. Approximately 50 percent of the population consumes oatmeal.
Among the grains, oats are seen as a healthy one. This trend began with the “oatmeal” craze at the end of the 1980s, following the research that documented the health benefits of the oat. Whole grains and high food content continue to attract consumers with high protein content among micronutrients, phytochemicals and grains.
The real trend for oat consumption is beta-glucan. The data on cholesterol-lowering ability are scientifically documented in many countries. This phenomenon originally set out in the United States in 1997 and followed in other countries. It is expected that this interest in oats’ health value is expected to continue as the consumers continue to prefer high-fiber whole grains. New investigations on the benefits of oat blood glucose control and satiety have attracted consumers’ attention. For those with celiac disease, gluten-free oat production increases oat demand. The only concern is that the oat is the only world product in which production has shown a steady decline since the 1970s. The decline is about 60 percent in total.
Only two percent of the barley crop is used directly for human consumption. Malt production for beer accounts for 40 percent of barley yield. Barley, like oat, contains soluble fiber beta-glucan, which is associated with healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy heart.
In 2005, the FDA changed its health opinion regarding soluble oat fiber and coronary heart disease, including barley. Studies show that the barley can have a significant potential to change the GI parameter in humans. In addition, the outer layers of the full barley rich with the content of vitamin E. Some consumers are interested in using barley as sprouted grains.
Trends in People’s Consumption
In many countries around the world, caloric intake has increased since 1970. On the contrary, despite the accusations that increase is linked to a food group such as grain, the data show that food availability and consumption are increasing for all major food groups. The consumption of more energy in the last thirty years is due to the fact that information that has dietary recommendations for some food groups could not reach people enough.
Consumption data for children and adolescents show that they consume too many calories through consuming sugar, beverages and grain-based desserts. On average, people consume more refined grains containing more sugar and fat while consuming less whole grain products. Only a small percentage of the population consumes the recommended total grain.
To reverse current trends, efforts should be made to include whole grains instead of refined grains and to meet the total grain consumed as recommended by nutritionists. It is not easy to predict how economic and agricultural conditions and policies will affect geopolitical climates and technical progress, particularly population, energy and environmental pressures, food pricing, sustainability, availability and costs.
Trends such as new health surveys, food safety, food fears and social media, changing social norms, the adoption of food from other countries, and other consumer issues will continue to affect the consumption. However, estimation will not be easy anyway. We can follow the comments of trend observers and current data sources and trends, and use them to answer critical questions about food choices.
As a result, consumption data for cereal and grain-based foods are intertwined with a number of trends. Demographics (age, household size, and household income, women in the workforce, education, geographical location and ethnicity), different lifestyles and consumer behavior (toward food habits and food preferences) are the main factors influencing trends in the world. Consumer trends affecting the movement of grain-based foods through the food system include food market trends, food processing / production trends, and agricultural trends. Trends in the consumption of cereal crops will be driven mainly by the marketing, accessibility, food safety in the food system, the increase and development of demand for ready-to-eat food, and out-of-home consumption.
We also suggest you to read our previous article titled "GRAIN BASED FOOD PREFERENCES AND CULTURAL CHANGING & DIFFERENCES".