Special Announcement: Enhancements to the Whole Grain Stamp Program 

Introducing Our New 50%+ Stamp!
Dear Oldways Whole Grains Council members,

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new 50%+ Stamp! In this special edition of our newsletter you will find details about how and when you can start using the new Stamp on your products.

WGC members are making products with higher and higher whole grain content -- and we want to help consumers quickly recognize these products. Our 50%+ Whole Grain Stamp designates products in which at least half of the grain is whole grain, making it a valuable marketing and communication  tool for food companies, and providing consumers with even better information about the whole grain content of their purchases -- a true win-win for manufacturers and consumers. 

Starting January 17, 2017, this new packaging symbol will be available to all Oldways Whole Grains Council members in good standing,  for use on products sold in the US  (except those requiring FSIS review). 

Why Introduce a New Stamp? And Why Now? 

Starting in 2005, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have encouraged us to make at least half of our grains whole. Consumers want to know when products are made primarily with whole grains, and this is a way to help them easily recognize products that meet that standard. 

Since we rolled out the 50%+ checkmark on our online Stamped Products database in August 2016, Whole Grains Council members have expressed interest in a packaging symbol that makes the 50%+ level obvious, right in store aisles. Now is the perfect time to introduce this exciting new Stamp, since companies are already in the process of planning packaging reprints for the updated Nutrition Facts Label. 
Key Things to Know about the 50%+ Stamp  
  • The 50%+ Stamp does not replace the current Basic or 100% Stamp; it augments them.
  • You may continue to use the Basic Stamp as is, on qualifying products that don't yet "make half their grains whole" -- though we hope over time you'll consider reformulating Basic products to qualify for the 50%+ Stamp!
  • The 100% Stamp also remains, though with updated language at the bottom. Instead of reading, "EAT 48g OR MORE OF WHOLE GRAINS PER DAY," it now reads, "100% OF THE GRAIN IS WHOLE GRAIN." Whole both messages are helpful, the new footnote message resonated more strongly with consumers in a nationwide survey. 

How Will I Get the 50%+ Stamp? Will My Products Qualify?

Qualifying for the 50%+ Stamp
Each company's products will vary, of course, but we expect a high number of products to qualify overall. Since we started collecting "total grain" content on products in mid-2015, we've found that an impressive 91% of new products meet the distinction of making at least half their grains whole (qualifying for either the 50%+ Stamp or the 100% Stamp).  Note: As stated above, the new 50%+ Stamp is only available for usage on US products (except FSIS ones) for now.

On January 17, 2017, we will be updating our database so that all currently registered products that qualify for the new 50%+ Stamp will show up as approved for this Stamp. You will be able to log into your WGC member account, view your list of registered products, and see which ones are eligible for a packaging update with our new Stamp. There will be no additional approval required in order to make these updates. 

Using the 50%+ Stamp
You can take advantage of the new 50%+ Stamp and the updated 100% Stamp on new products sold in the US immediately. New graphics will be available on the WGC website on January 17, 2017. Along with the existing unchanged Basic Stamp, the new 50%+ and 100% Stamps will be standard on all new packaging printed after this date. You're also welcome to update older products at any time after January 17, 2017. Since companies will already be updating packaging for changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel, we encourage you to update your Whole Grain Stamp graphics at the same time.

To register new products for the new Stamp, members will submit an online Product Registration Form as usual. Our form asks for the amount (in grams) of Whole Grains and the amount of Total Grains (Whole Grains + Refined Grains). If the Whole Grains make up at least 50% of the Total Grains, the product will qualify for the 50%+ Stamp. You will be able to select this Stamp as one of three Stamp options (100%, 50%+, and Basic) on the Product Registration Form. When in doubt, you may select the Basic Stamp and we will upgrade it to the 50%+ Stamp during our review if it qualifies. 
Successful Consumer Testing of the 50%+ Stamp

Consumer research was an essential part of our planning for the new 50%+ Stamp. This research was part of a nationwide US survey of 1,500 consumers, which SSI carried out on behalf of the Whole Grains Council in mid-2015. We found that:
  • Consumers understand the proposed three-Stamp system (including the 50%+ Stamp) even more readily than our existing system using just two Stamps. 
  • Understanding of the 50%+ Stamp (as proposed) was instantly clear -- the number of consumers who "got it" at a glance was in fact higher than for the Basic or 100% Stamp, already familiar from grocery store shelves.
  • Understanding of the 100% Stamp increased with the small change in the "fine print" under the Stamp that is part of this update. 
This research made it very clear to us that our proposed changes would be a win-win for consumers and manufacturers alike. 
When Will the 50%+ Stamp be Available for FSIS and non-US Products?

We will begin rolling out Spanish and Portuguese versions of the new Stamp in March 2017, and subsequently, other languages will be made available on request. Please contact Caroline Sluyter at caroline@oldwayspt.org to learn more about international and non-English Stamps. 

We will be working with USDA/FSIS and with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to see when/if the 50%+ Stamp may also be available on FSIS products in the US, and on products in Canada. We will keep you up-to-date through our Member Newsletter as the 50%+ Stamp moves forward. 

For any other questions, please contact Caroline Sluyter at 617-896-4832 or caroline@oldwayspt.org.
Caroline Sluyter
Stamp Program Manager

Kelly Toups, MLA, RD, LDN
Program Director

Cynthia Harriman
Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies

... and from all of the Oldways and Whole Grains Council staff
Oldways is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization inspiring good health through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. The Oldways Whole Grains Council is only one of our many successful programs. Check out our website to learn more