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The Breakfast Bowl



Cereal! This blog is about our favorite breakfast food, and the important role that it plays in our culture. Special attention will be given to news, marketing, trends, and how we enjoy cereal in our lives. The Breakfast Bowl is the leading independent b



Last Build Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:43:55 +0000

 



Cereal companies desperate to see what sticks

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 07:44:00 +0000

Although its hard to quantify, it certainly seems that 2017 could be one of the most prolific years ever (or at least in recent history) for new cereal introductions. A quick review of this year, reveals a plethora of new cereal brands and varieties, ranging from the usual infusion of new Cheerios to the reintroduction of classic Trix to the countless recipes brought out by smaller players. There are, in fact, so many new cereals coming out now that The Breakfast Bowl does not even bother to report on most of them, unless they stand out as truly unique or innovative. Quite frankly, most of the new cereals are quite boring and even predictable.

Why the recent surge in cereal introductions? In short, it's because cereal companies are desperate to find some new magic bullet that will help turn around overall slumping sales. The hope, of course, is that they will stumble across a brand or flavor that will go viral and boost sales revenues. So, they keep throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

For consumers, and especially true cereal enthusiasts, this can be a fun time. The abundance of options fights against the boredom that has been growing for this food. Sadly, however, many of these new products will never catch on, and will quickly disappear from the grocers' shelves, never to be tasted again.

Yet, there's more to come. Typically, the beginning of a new year, which is just around the corner, sees a number of cereal launches. We just came across one of these. A video from midwest grocer County Market shows a taste test of some supposed new cereals coming from General Mills in early 2018: Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes, Peach Cheerios, and a new flavored shredded wheat products called Shreds in peanut butter chocolate and Cinnamon Toast Crunch varieties. And, we are very likely to see Kellogg and Post pull all stops as well with some great introductions.

What has been your favorite new cereal of 2017? What are you hoping for in 2018?




Kellogg cleans up Corn Pops controversy

Tue, 31 Oct 2017 04:35:00 +0000

At a time when cereal companies are struggling to retain (let alone increase) market share, the last thing they need is bad publicity. Yet, this is what happened to Kellogg last week, when sharp-eyed, morning cereal box readers noticed something unusual on the back of their Corn Pops. The back panel of the box featured a cartoon with many Corn Pops characters, and standing out was one with a darker, brown complexion portrayed as a janitor. Quickly Twitter lit up as people took offense to the racial insensitivity of the artwork, seemingly playing on a stereotype that this is the type of work done by people of color. Embarrassed by the controversy, the company quickly responded on Twitter saying that "Kellogg is committed to diversity & inclusion. We did not intend to offend – we apologize. The artwork is updated & will be in stores soon."

The response was rapid and appropriate, but it really makes one wonder how something like this could get out to market as it did. Hopefully, a lesson learned.

(BTW, if you can find one, pick up one of these boxes. Recalled cereal boxes typically have significant value in the future).





Is Post's lawsuit in the bag?

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 04:09:00 +0000

The cereal industry is struggling, and you know that desperation is in the air when lawsuits start flying. This is what happened just a few weeks ago when Post Consumer Brands sued General Mills for patent infringement of its bagged cereal displays.

Bagged cereals have become a big hit for Post, which now owns MOM, the maker of Malt-O-Meal cereals, most of which are brand-name knock-offs sold in large bags. Consumers have gravitated to these cereals because they are cheaper. And price is a big driver in the grocery aisle. General Mills, recognizing MOM's success, and probably frustrated by the attempts to copy some of their big names, decided to get in the game themselves, but with their genuine cereals sold in bags. The issue here is not the bags themselves, but the way they are merchandised. The suit claims that General Mills is using a "copycat merchandising system that imitates Post's innovative divider and merchandising system for bagged cereals." As you can see from the image here, included in the lawsuit, the presentation on the shelves is almost identical, pitting the big-name branded cereals against the cheaper imitations.

Imitation is sometimes considered the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case Post wants to protect something that is working for them. If the lawsuit is won, this would change the shelf displays, but I doubt that the bags themselves are going away anytime soon. We'll watch with interest.

(Source: Minneapolis StarTribune)




General Mills ramps up the winter cereal race

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 06:25:00 +0000

It's not only Gingerbread Spice Life that is catching people's attention as we get closer to winter. A number of sources recently revealed that General Mills will soon be making Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms available in limited edition varieties: Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms and Hot Cocoa Cocoa Puffs. These will be available at Target, and should be fun comfort foods for the shorter days ahead. I'm sure we'll see others as well, including the annual appearance of Christmas Cap'n Crunch.

Further examples of how seasonal cereals are a great marketing strategy for cereal companies!



Gingerbread Spice Life!

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 14:56:00 +0000

There are many new cereals introduced each year, and most are not worth reporting on. But, occasionally some stand out, and here is a great example. According to Candy Hunting Quaker will be introducing a limited edition Gingerbread Spice Life cereal, likely before the Holiday season.

While not the first the gingerbread cereal - there have been a few attempts by fringe brands over the years - this marks a major cereal maker tapping into this flavor. This should do well in the grocery stores, as people will be drawn by the emotional connections the tastes and aromas bring. The packaging also looks great - not cartoony, but a serious variety based on a serious cereal.

Will be you trying it?

(Image source: Candy Hunting)



The Trix behind classic cereals

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 06:04:00 +0000

Big news in the cereal world today, as General Mills announced that they would be bringing back Trix with all the artificial flavors and colors you used to love, although no word yet on any change to the sugar content. It was just two years ago that General Mills announced the move to remove these artificial ingredients, as part of a longer trend of making their cereals more healthful. "Classic" Trix is not a limited time promotion, but will sit permanently next to the more tame, "natural" Trix on grocers shelves.Obviously, the move to a greater health focus has a downside. In the effort to satisfy critics of highly sugared cereals targeted to kids, interest in these beloved breakfast brands has decreased. The newer Trix recipe is much more bland and less interesting, or "boring" as I called it in my review. Despite all the altruism, it was apparent to General Mills that people really want the bright and flavorful version embedded in most people's memories. In a time when cereal sales are sagging (evidenced by other news today that General Mills' profits have declined due to weaker cereal revenues), it was time to go back to what worked in the past.The initial reaction by consumers has been extremely positive, although some hoped that the one-time popular fruit shapes would return as well, something that General Mills said may still happen. For cereal enthusiasts, this move today is very significant, and provides hope that the good old days of cereal fun may return. We have seen many examples before by General Mills and others of using vintage packaging to tap into nostalgia, and in some cases, successful cereals of the past have been reintroduced, such as Post's recent relaunch of Oreo O's. But, to go back to a previous, less healthy recipe, is largely unheard of. I have long held that reintroducing classic cereals could be a boon for cereal manufacturers, even if these were limited editions. Maybe today's move will inspire other reintroductions.There is a problem, however. What if these classic recipes take off (as they certainly will), overshadowing their healthier shelf-mates? General Mills and others will have no business choice, but to keep the older formulas, and drop the less interesting newer varieties. In other words, this is the New Coke versus Classic Coke dilemma of the 1980's, but with cereal. The problem is that this puts General Mills back into the crosshairs of those who believe that highly-sugared cereal with artificial ingredients should not be sold, or at least not targeted to children.No matter how the future unfolds, today's reintroduction of Classic Trix is a significant move in the ongoing cereal saga.[...]



Eat your veggies ... at breakfast

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:05:00 +0000

This isn't a new topic, but one that deserves a fresh look.

Recently, UK cereal maker, Dorset, introduced a new variety of muesli: "Gently Spiced Carrot & Apple." That's right, carrot. This comes from a niche company that makes well-crafted muesli and granola cereals, and with some of the most beautiful packaging in the industry. This particular recipe sounds wonderful, and is billed as inspired by carrot cake.

To be fair, Dorset is not the first company to incorporate vegetables into cereal. Others to do so have included Bitsy's Brainfood, Love Grown, and vegetable ingredient options for the custom mixes from Bear Naked. Apart from the fact, however, that Bear Naked is owned by Kellogg, vegetables as a primary ingredient in cereal have yet to hit the mainstream with the major brands.

But, perhaps they should. For consumers looking for novel ingredients and tastes, and maximum nutrition, it may be time for the cereal industry to put their dessert cereals aside, and eat their veggies first. In a declining industry, they have nothing to lose.



Technology to address sugar

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:36:00 +0000

Earlier this summer General Mills applied for a patent to reduce sugar in breakfast cereals, but without changing other important properties such as texture, appearance or bowl life. This is accomplished by coating the cereal in high-intensity sweeteners (i.e. maltodextrins, which are essentially short chains of glucose molecules).

The real point of this patent is not actually the technology itself, which, by the way, is fairly innovative. What matters are the problems that this solves. Consumers are wanting a reduction in sugar, but simply reducing the amount of sucrose creates its own issues. Obviously, less sugar means blander taste. In addition, the baked sugar in cereal is what gives it its crunch, brown color, and helps keep it from getting soggy. In other words, changing the recipe is not simple as it sounds.

Because of these extra properties that come from sugar, one cannot just use an alternative ingredient, such as an artificial sweetener (which has additional drawbacks for consumers) or fruit juice, etc. Again, you might help with the actual sweetness, but many of the other desirable properties will be compromised.

Food science may be one of the strategies that could help the big cereal companies address the needs and high demands of consumers, while maintaining a great breakfast experience. In this example, General Mills might just be on to something.

SOURCE: Food Business News



Monsters and other seasonal cereals

Mon, 04 Sep 2017 04:02:00 +0000

This isn't new (it was actually announced almost a month ago), and it's hardly news (since it happens every year at this time), nevertheless, it's that time of year again when General Mills unveils the latest edition of their monster cereals. This year's Halloween specials are the same, familiar crew: Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry. Of course the box design is tweaked, and this year we see the introduction of "monster marshmallows."

Ho hum. Perhaps. But, the truth is that if these three cereals were available year round their ubiquitousness would have killed them long ago. In fact, that almost happened, and two of the monster team (Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy) are no longer with us (despite a brief resurrection in 2013). To prevent the whole franchise going down, General Mills adopted a strategy that now makes them one of the most anticipated cereal events of the year: They are only made available in conjunction with Halloween, and then put to sleep for the rest of the year. Their annual fresh appearance generates lots of attention, and I'm sure, sales.

While this is the best example of a seasonal strategy for cereals, there are some others as well. For example, Cap'n Crunch typically has a "Christmas Crunch" edition, with red and green pieces. The recent trend of Pumpkin Spice appears to be another case, with last year's four cereal contenders back again for 2017. There are other, less prominent, examples as well.

I wonder if cereal companies could do more to capitalize on the annual rhythm of the calendar, and offer special editions that are come out regularly each year around the same time? For example, the Advent calendar concept offers many possibilities. What about a Peeps cereal at Easter? Seasonal cereals could be a tremendous opportunity to generate new interest and reduce boredom at the breakfast table. The cereal industry needs that.





Cereals that "move"

Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:03:00 +0000

Today, cereals have to stand out in order gain attention among consumers. Typically, the approach is to make either fun cereals or those that are focused on health and nutrition. What if you could combine the two?

Probably the best example of creative, "out of the box" thinking among health-oriented cereals comes from two irreverent startup brands that highlight high fiber and the effects it can have on the digestive system. These cereals definitely get noticed, mainly through their names. Snickers and juvenile reactions aside, it seems to be working, at least for one of them, so far.

Eight years, a small Canadian firm came up with Holy Crap, and since then it has become a well-known, albeit niche brand in that country, but also available in some U.S. stores as well, and online. While the name is bold, the cereal is no-nonsense health food, and now comes in several varieties, and some line extensions.

Now, building on that outlandishness, a U.S. cereal maker has come up with Poop Like a Champion. Their website has a Monty Python feel to it, which is just the anti-establishment feel they are going for. The "ultra high fiber" cereal contains 16g of roughage, and bills itself as "The Number 1 High Fiber Cereal for Number 2's." It appears to be available only on Amazon at this time.

While this type of bathroom humor marketing has its limits, it does represent the fresh approach that may be needed for some cereals to get noticed in today's stuffy cereal marketplace.



Krispies art

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 04:03:00 +0000

From time to time, I have highlighted various artists who have used cereal as their medium. Some of the creations have been amazing, but few have found a sustained niche in cereal art. Except, perhaps for Jessica Siskin, "Misterkrisp," who has masterfully created almost daily works of art predominately using Rice Krispies for a couple of years now. Her Instagram account has over 54,000 followers, a testament to her take on one of North America's leading treats.

While I have highlighted her work before, what is noteworthy now is the release of Siskin's new book, Treat Yourself, a colorful guide for anyone who wants to make Pinterest-worthy creations to eat or just display. If you want to bring more fun back into cereal, this is definitely one way to do it!





Kellogg is ramping up new restaurant experience

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:33:00 +0000

As further confirmation of my recent suggestion that we are entering a new era of cereal restaurants, Kellogg just days later announced that they will be launching a "new immersive cereal experience" in New York city, this winter.

In the meantime, this past Sunday the company shut down Kellogg's NYC, their much touted concept restaurant in Times Square to prepare for the move to downtown. With the success they experienced, and from what they learned in the process, it was determined that their initial location was too small. Now they have grander plans in mind: "Significantly larger than our current location, the new spot will be able to contain an explosion of cereal inspiration and fun... [and] a more immersive experience and new kitchen to explore cereal in exciting, fresh ways throughout your day.

Kellogg is not saying much more at this time, but it is clear that they are thinking big and "outside the box." This could contribute further to expansion of cereal restaurants, not only by Kellogg, but other companies as well.

We'll be watching!

(Photo source: Kellogg's NYC)



Has the time finally arrived for cereal restaurants?

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 03:42:00 +0000

Business concepts typically go through natural cycles. Usually, someone launches a new innovation, getting lots of attention, including that from copycats who jump on the bandwagon wanting to cash in on the potential. Eventually, however, the initial enthusiasm is not enough to sustain the idea, creating many causalities along the way, and often consolidation. Eventually, however, once clearer minds are able to better understand the industry and what is required to succeed in it, a second wave of growth occurs. At this point, more mature individuals and companies emerge to lead and dominate. History is full of examples of this, ranging from things like the automobile to computers to podcasting.A perfect case in point for us are cereal restaurants. It was twelve years ago this month that I first noticed this concept, with a new chain called Cereality. The following couple of years saw other companies open cereal bars as well, but after some lawsuits and many failures, things settled down. Even the pioneer, Cereality, began to struggle, and was eventually bought out by Coldstone Creamery. Today, Cereality has one location remaining, in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.Then things were relatively quiet for a few years, until 2014 when two brothers got tremendous media coverage (and even controversy at times) for the launch of the Cereal Killer Café in London. Since that time a number of entrepreneurs, and even Kellogg's itself, took a fresh look at the concept, and we are seeing a whole new level of activity across several countries. Some of these are small local joints, but others are being launched with sophisticated marketing and savvy, like the soon to be opened The Cereal Box in Arvada, Colorado and Barley in Montreal.I'm convinced we'll see more of this. Certainly, some will flounder, but others will carve out a whole new niche. I would not be surprised to see the big cereal companies follow on the heels of Kellogg's NYC experiment, and set up cereal cafes across the country in strategic locations to highlight and strengthen their brands.These could be exciting times!(Photo source: Kellogg NYC)[...]



Kellogg UK to sell cereal advent calendar

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 05:50:00 +0000

Cereal lovers in the United Kingdom are excited this week, with news that Kellogg will be selling an Advent Calendar, as a special edition of its Variety Pack collection. That's 24 single-serving boxes of cereal to help countdown the days of December leading up to Christmas!

Gimmick? Of course. But, it's the type of creative marketing that is simple to implement, with the potential for generating some positive cereal attention. To be sure, this is the not the first cereal advent calendar. MyMuesli in Germany has been making these for several years, and with much more finesse. But, Kellogg's attempt is noteworthy, as it comes from one of the big companies.

I have reached out to Kellogg U.S. to find out if we can expect this on our side of the pond, but so far no word if we can expect this gift for Christmas.

(Source: Good Housekeeping)




The expanding world of cereal lines

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 05:34:00 +0000

Our recent report of interesting, new Post Shredded Wheat varieties was a good reminder of how the bulk of new cereals (not including limited edition one-offs) coming out today are extensions of existing lines. At one time, during cereals' heyday, almost every new cereal was launched as its own brand. Those days are long over, with very few new cereal brands introduced by the major players. In fact, when General Mills launched Tiny Toast last year they proudly claimed that it was the first new brand in 15 years, a position I challenged at the time. Interestingly, just a couple of months ago that experiment quickly ended, as the two Tiny Toasts were absorbed into the Toast Crunch line.

In many ways this makes sense, as people are less loyal to or interested in the cereal companies themselves, and it is difficult for new brands to stand out. Consumers gravitate to known and trusted brands, and line extensions are a convenient way for companies to introduce new cereals. If you want to make a chocolate flavored cereal, instead of trying to drum up a new brand, just piggy back on an existing one like Cheerios, or Shredded Wheat. It seems now that virtually every permanent cereal line has been extended to some extent, with some of the more notable ones being Cheerios (13 varieties), Honey Bunches of Oats (12 varieties), Special K (17 cereals plus other food products), and Chex (8 varieties). We also see special edition and seasonal cereals joining lines for a short period on such brands as Cap'n Crunch and Pebbles.

While we still have tons of cereal brands to choose from, in reality the number has basically levelled off. Instead, we have super-brands that dominate grocery store shelves and consumers minds. This makes it much more difficult for new brands to get noticed, but on the other hand, could be a tremendous opportunity for an exciting new brand that wants to disrupt the market.



Post brings new life to a stodgy brand

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:44:00 +0000

There have been a lot of new cereals hitting the shelves in the past few months, as cereal companies try everything possible to garner attention. Some are more exciting than others, with the majority hardly likely to make much traction. But, another recent introduction has captured my attention, and this one also comes from Post. They have launched three new varieties of their Shredded Wheat line, one of the oldest cereal brands out there. Shredded Wheat whether as the original biscuit, or one of the Spoon Size versions, is hearty, healthy cereal; but not cereals that most consumers pay attention to.

The new Shredded Wheat cereals are frosted spoon size biscuits. On the surface, this might sound hardly unique, especially in light of Kellogg's highly successful Mini-Wheats line. But, Post (quietly and quickly moving to become the most significant cereal company) did not just to spit out another knock-off. The flavors are bold: cinnamon roll, mixed berry, and s'mores bites. And the packaging jumps off the shelf with color and energy. I am sure people will want to try them. I do!

If it is possible to make Shredded Wheat interesting, then anything is possible at time when the cereal industry needs some big wins.






Bringing Back the Oldies

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 05:46:00 +0000

A few weeks ago word was out that Post would be re-introducing a notable cereal that was discontinued over a decade ago. Oreo O's cereal was a novel branding coup when it first came out in 1998, and had many fans. Unfortunately, enthusiasm waned, and eventually the famous cookie inspired cereal was pulled from the market. Now that the Oreo brand has gone into hyper-mode with virtually every flavor combination possible in cookies, Post saw this as a great time to bring it back in its cereal form. Cereal and Oreo fans have been ecstatic.

The real story, however, is not just the return of this particular cereal, but about the comeback of nostalgic cereals. This is the not the first time for such a revival. General Mills did it not too long ago with French Toast Crunch, and a short-term resurrection of two almost forgotten monster cereals. Also coming soon, is Post Honey Maid S'mores cereal (a Honey Maid cereal was also first introduced about 10 years ago, before disappearing).

The point in all this is that for cereal companies looking for growth opportunities, bringing back nostalgic cereals could be one effective strategy. Most of us grew up with certain memorable cereals on our kitchen tables, and nothing would generate an emotional response like getting an opportunity to try again one a cereal like Freakies, OK's, Pink Panther Flakes, etc. (Another approach that companies have used is to simply provide vintage packaging on existing cereals to tap into our memories of the past).

Sure, the reality of reintroduced cereals might not live up to our memories of them, but, it would certainly generate some significant short-term sales, and perhaps one or two of these oldies could become a hit again. At minimum, this would generate some interest in cereal again at time when people seem to be pulling away.

What cereal would you like to see return?



Cinnamon Toast Crunch is Hitting the Road

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 05:54:00 +0000

We all know cereal sales have slumped. People are just not shopping the cereal aisle of the grocery store. So, what does a cereal company do? Go to the consumer.

General Mills announced today that they will be going on a road trip this summer with a portable Drive Thru promoting Cinnamon Toast Crunch, currently their brand getting the most creative marketing campaigns. This pop up pit stop is targeted to people on road trips, with the first one showing up this weekend at the Grand Canyon. Travellers can sample the cereal, which will include special recipe concoctions. While their press release does not explicitly say so, it sounds like we could see the big cereal box and milk carton in other prominent tourist locations across the U.S. over the next two months.

Again, General Mills has been doing some fun marketing with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, including a selfie spoon offer, among other things. While limited in scope and actual reach, campaigns like this can contribute to a greater brand profile and buzz. Interestingly, General Mills' European partner, Nestle, has also been experimenting with pop-up promotions in malls in Ireland.

So, watch for this new Drive Thru coming to a tourist trap near you this summer. Where would you like to see one?



Burger King Gets Lucky

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 03:38:00 +0000

First it was Froot Loops, but now two months, later Burger King looks like it's serious about cereal flavored frozen foods with the introduction of the Lucky Charms shake. This time General Mills gets the nod, giving restaurant customers a reason to spend more by purchasing this novelty featuring one of their beloved cereals. Sure, it's a gimmick, but a smart tie-in for the both the fast food and cereal giants. Although, at 740 calories and 107g of sugar, if you eat too many of these you might not live enough to remain a customer.

What other cereal flavors would you like to see in a shake or frozen dessert?






Wheaties is looking to the stars (again)

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 06:45:00 +0000

The most frequent editorial comments on The Breakfast Bowl have concerned Wheaties. I have often wondered why General Mills has not taken better advantage of this iconic brand, especially in marketing to men. Sure, they tried several different strategies over the years, and for a time appeared to have success (or at least prominent brand position) by focusing on big name sports leagues, teams and players. But, about ten years ago, sales were soggy and Wheaties had become mediocre. In 2009 they tried by introducing Wheaties FUEL, but that was not well executed. Since then, the company has appeared to be floundering with Wheaties, lacking clarity and marketing focus. Most recently they tried going after the younger crowd with extreme sports, but I doubt that has achieved its goal.

Last month, however, we saw a glimpse of perhaps a new strategy. Or, at least an old strategy revived. General Mills announced that the young golfing sensation, Jordan Spieth, has now signed on with Wheaties and will be gracing the front of a new box coming very soon. Spieth is a big name, and for many is the new Tiger Woods, another Wheaties alumnus. Obviously, the Big G is hoping that his prominence will sell many orange boxes, and perhaps push new energy into the Wheaties brand. It is the first really big star in many years, and could be a sign that, if this works, we could see more big names back on the boxes. (By the way, yes basketball great Stephen Curry was on Wheaties not long ago, but General Mills was going the cheap route - he only appeared in street clothes, as including him in a Warriors uniform would complicated the arrangement due to licensing costs, etc.).

Overall, getting Jordan Spieth on Wheaties is a good move. I am not convinced, however, that it is a strong long-term strategy. Ultimately, General Mills needs to do more with the Wheaties brand, and part of that might mean a close look at the cereal itself.

In the meantime, we'll be watching the stars.





When brands are toast

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 07:13:00 +0000

There has been much buzz in recent days as General Mills has revamped and expanded its line of "Toast" cereals, built around the highly successful and popular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The company just announced the introduction of Apple Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and a re-branding of last year's strawberry and blueberry Tiny Toast cereals to also join the family. Along with French Toast Crunch, there are now five Toast Crunch cereals, creating a strong sub-brand, a growing trend in the cereal industry. Previously, there have been other flavors as well, including chocolate, and peanut butter.

Of course, the new Apple Cinnamon flavor sounds delightful. But, of most interest here is the quick re-branding of the two Tiny Toast varieties introduced just one year ago. At the time, General Mills touted this as a new brand, but I questioned the strategy, wondering why they did not go with the Toast Crunch designation. One analyst, quoted in Ad Age, suggested that they went the Tiny Toast route to get more attention and grocer's shelf space. Regardless, the company has allowed common sense to prevail, and now they have a strong family of cereals that should be a leader within their portfolio.





The expanding world of Post

Mon, 22 May 2017 06:24:00 +0000

When we think about the major players in the cereal industry, most of the attention goes to Kellogg and General Mills, the world's largest cereal companies. Beyond that are several other players, such as Post and Quaker, but these seem to pale in comparison. Or do they?

Post, in particular, is a dark horse that is quietly and quickly gaining momentum to be more than an also-ran, third place contender. Historically, Post was right there from the beginning as a rival in Battle Creek with the Kellogg brothers. Over the years, however, Post lost its edge, falling behind in the pack. Things have begun to change in the last decade after several ownership shifts and reorganizations. This included a merger with Ralcorp (i.e. Ralston cereals) and the purchase of Malt-O-Meal. Previously, Nabisco was incorporated into the company as well. Other brands in the Post portfolio include Better Oats, Mom's Best Cereals, and Peace Cereals.

Last month, another major milestone for Post was achieved with the takeover of U.K. cereal giant, Weetabix. Weetabix itself (i.e. a wheat and malted barely cereal) is somewhat obscure for most Americans, but is an icon in Britain. The purchase by Post not only gives the company a greater foothold in the U.K. market, but gives Post some additional opportunities in the U.S. In addition to Weetabix itself, the Alpen and Barbara's brands are now Post's as well. Post CEO Robert Vitale has said that with this acquisition, "it’s the right time to bring all our cereal brands under one unit." (Source: Food Business News) All of this means that Post's brand matrix is stronger and more diverse than ever. If carefully managed, this could further bolster Post ahead in an already tight cereal market and race.

The company could truly be poised to "be first past the post" (pun intended)!




10,000 boxes Lucky Charms marshmallows coming soon

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:14:00 +0000

General Mills' Lucky Charms is one of the best-selling cereals out there, and one of its most-loved features are the colorful marshmallows that accent the experience. It is not uncommon for people to eat the marshmallows only, or to consume the cereal pieces first in the bowl, saving the marshmallows until the end. General Mills' knows all this, and wants to capitalize on it.

A couple of years ago the company held a contest, where 10 boxes of marshmallow-only Lucky Charms were given awarded. Now, they want to play this up to a much bigger scale, with the plan to give out 10,000 boxes! Starting this month, look for specially marked boxes of Lucky Charms that will contain a special code printed inside the box. Visit their website, and if your code matches, General Mills will send you one of the rare, special boxes.

In the past, some have argued that Lucky Charms Marshmallows should be sold in stores, but this is far more valuable to the company. This generous offer creates tremendous buzz for Lucky Charms, and, at least in the short-term, will sell a ton of cereal as people frantically search to discover whether they will be the truly Lucky ones. Such brand energy is just what General Mills needs, and is one of the creative ways that cereal companies must come up with to restore the fun of breakfast cereal amid sagging sales.






Design Matters

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 06:26:00 +0000

Over the years I have, at times, highlighted noteworthy design changes in cereal boxes. In a crowded grocery story aisle, it is critical that a brand have a clear identity that stands out from the competition. Unfortunately, many cereals suffer from either bad design or being stuck in decades old time warp. This is puzzling, especially considering the struggles that the cereal industry is having. You would think there would be more experimentation and innovation with this aspect.

Every once in a while, however, a cereal company breaks the mold and does something fresh with design. For example, recently, we have seen this with the new look at Kashi. And, now another great example rises to the forefront from the United Kingdom. There, the Good Grain brand has gone through a recent transformation, and it looks great!


As you can see in the before and after photos of one of their cereals, they have a adopted a simplistic look that is bright, fun and captivating. Previously, as is typical with most cereals, the box was cluttered with a lot of text, and the obligatory decked-out bowl of cereal. The new design has been radically cleaned-up, and seems to leap off the shelf into the shopping cart.

I hope more cereal companies are paying attention to these design changes. Again, this is an area they seem to have ignored in their quest to turn around sagging cereal sales. It is not the full solution, but it would go a long way to improve the image of these breakfast staples.

(Source: Brand New)




Purely Pinole: A New Twist to Hot Cereal

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 06:12:00 +0000

One of the objectives of The Breakfast Bowl is to observe and comment on trends affecting the cereal industry. On several occasions, including as recently as two months ago, I have probed into hot cereals, and have wondered when someone is going to truly disrupt this rather boring market segment. Occasionally there are signs of innovation, but most of what we see with hot cereal are just endless variations of oatmeal.After my last post on the topic, I was contacted by Claudio Ochoa, one of the founders of Native State Foods, a recent startup that specializes in somewhat unusual hot cereals based on pinole. To help me understand and assess this new product, Ochoa had several samples sent to me to try.So, what is pinole (pronounced Pih-NOL)? The company bills their product, branded as Purely Pinole, as an ancient Aztec power food. According to Ochoa, who himself grew up in Honduras eating this concoction, it originated over 500 years ago with the Aztecs, and is still a traditional food in parts of central America. Pinole is made primarily from ground wild purple maize, and then roasted alongside other ingredients such as cacao, cinnamon and allspice. It is cooked with milk, and eaten as a porridge.For Ochoa the appeal for pinole is much greater than his desire to rediscover a comfort food from the past. Apart from its novel taste and texture, the value of this product is also found in its nutritional qualities. Most notable about pinole is that it is high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. And it addresses all kinds of other contemporary concerns such as being vegan, gluten-free, and without any artificial ingredients. One group of people who have used this formula for years is endurance runners, but Ochoa and his partner, Angela, are hoping that word gets out to many others as well.Native State Food was founded about two years ago as a side business, but they are working hard to establish the brand and create a line of products built around this power food. The packaging and marketing are done with excellence, and the story of Purely Pinole reaching back to the ancient Aztecs adds a sense of intrigue. Distribution, however, is still quite limited. Apart from their online store, Purely Pinole is only sold in stores in California and the northeast U.S. at this time, so there is limited exposure. Over time they hope to expand beyond that, but are not in a rush. They are focusing on active weekend warriors looking for performance foods, and young moms looking for something nutritious for their families. Their product line is currently limited to three flavors (original, blueberry+banana, and tart cherry+lemon), but soon they will be launching Grab & Go Snack Cups in four additional flavors that can be prepared in the microwave and eaten on the run.Overall, I have enjoyed my pinole experiences. Trying something unique in contrast to the many predictable hot cereal choices out there has been in itself fun. I cannot say that I would want to eat Pinole every day, but definitely as an occasional treat. The earthy flavors and spices make for a hearty breakfast, but there is flexibility to use this in other recipes. And, speaking personally, I must admit that I felt real good after eating pinole - not something that one say after eating many other cereals.The biggest challenge that I see for Purely Pinole, is just getting people to try something new and different. And, with that, lear[...]