Mondelēz adds whole grain content to some Ritz and Premium cracker labels

Dive Brief:

  • Mondelēz International will disclose the percentage of whole grain on the label for its Ritz “Baked With Whole Wheat” Crackers, Ritz “Baked with Whole Wheat” Fresh Stacks Crackers, and Premium “With Whole Grain” Saltine Crackers, the company said as part of a collaboration announced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
  • CSPI also said where the claim “baked with whole wheat” or “with whole grain” appears on the products, the words “baked with” and “with” will now be more prominent. Mondelēz did not respond to a request for comment.
  • Whole grains, which are associated with reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other ailments, are a popular ingredient sought by consumers wanting to eat healthier.  

Dive Insight:

For nearly two decades, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have encouraged consumers to make at least half their grains whole.

According to the Whole Grains Council, 59% of Americans are meeting this goal, with about a quarter of consumers telling the group they nearly always choose whole grains whenever they are available. The council said in 2021 that more than half have increased their whole grain consumption in the past five years. 

CSPI said shoppers should be aware of whole grain content in grain foods. Simply stating a product is made with whole grains is not enough, the consumer advocacy group said.

The partnership between CSPI and Mondelēz will not only provide more transparency, but also give shoppers more information to use to decide which product to buy. A product having a greater percentage of whole grains could be a deciding factor.

The whole grain percentages featured on the new Mondelēz labels, which are being rolled out this week, are: Ritz “Baked With Whole Wheat” Crackers and Fresh Stacks Crackers (44%) and Premium “With Whole Grain” Saltine

Crackers (34%). 

“The labeling changes that Mondelēz has agreed to make on its Ritz and Premium whole grain products are a significant step forward,” Lisa Mankofsky, CSPI’s litigation director, said in a statement. “This new and improved labeling will help consumers make informed decisions. …We hope that other manufacturers of whole grain products will follow suit.”

Mondelēz is not the first company to strike a collaboration with CSPI. Last year, Bimbo Bakeries USA agreed to provide additional information disclosing the percentage of whole grain on the label for some of its Sara Lee and Thomas offerings. Flowers Foods agreed to do the same with Wonder White Made With Whole Grain bread.

CSPI has a track record of filing lawsuits when companies fail to make what the nonprofit group sees as needed changes, and has previously sued about whole grain labeling. In 2016, CSPI sued Kellogg on behalf of several consumers, claiming the company misleadingly labeled its Cheez-It Whole Grain crackers, which it said were primarily made of refined grains. The lawsuit was settled after a federal appellate court ruled that “[a] reasonable consumer would likely be deceived” by the label, according to court records.