Conclusions

Cereals have been, and continue to be, a staple foodstuff. What has changed and what is expected to change further is the type of food products they are presented as. For example, in the United Kingdom bread consumption has halved during the last 50 years, while breakfast cereal consumption has tripled (Griffiths, 1999). These changes have been brought about, in no small part, by the tremendous socio-economic changes experienced in the Western world, which have led to the consumerist society. The demands of this society plus the consequences of demographic changes, together with the identification of the significant role that diet plays in the incidences of a wide number of chronic diseases have become key motivators in the design of new food products. Cereal foods are well placed to meet these challenges. This can take many forms, including capitalising on existing nutritional attributes (e.g. insoluble fibre in wholemeal flour products) to new functional foods. One example of functional high fibre foods is a range of products (e.g. pasta, breakfast cereals and snack bars) supplemented with psyllium fibre. Psyllium fibre has been demonstrated to be capable of reducing blood cholesterol concentrations (Roberts et al, 1994). Developing such foods is not necessarily a guarantee for commercial success, persuasive and ethical marketing is also required. There has been a number of well published cases (e.g. Buss, 2000), where cereal-based functional foods have failed by virtue of inadequate market research and poor sales strategies rather than by a defective product per se.

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