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Preview: The Breakfast Bowl

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: Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:23:21 +0000

 



The art of box redesigns

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 05:20:00 +0000

I have long argued that the box has been the most important aspect when it comes to breakfast cereal. No other food has been sold more on the basis of its packaging than with cereal, and the designs and characters found on cereal boxes have had a profound effect on our psyches and the larger culture. Over the years we have seen every cereal brand update its boxes with fresh designs and artwork; however, most of the time the changes are incremental, providing more of an evolution than a true transformation. It is recognized that boxes have to keep up with the times (and competition), keeping consumers engaged.So, while change is a constant, two recent prominent cereal box redesigns have caught my attention. Very recently, actually in the last few days, I came across a fresh new look for Kellogg's Froot Loops. Up to this point, most of the heavily sugared, "fun" cereals have been cartoonish, touting largely flat designs and solid colors. This latest edition is bold and energizing, placing emphasis on the mascot (i.e. Toucan Sam) and not on the cereal name, and giving him a much more realistic 3-D look. Even the bowl of cereal is different than what is typical, showing a side view of a glass bowl, jumping with excitement. I'm assuming we'll see many other Kellogg cereals adopt this style, and that should really make them pop on the shelves. Good job, Kellogg!Another redesign has also recently been noted. This time it is not one of the big brands, but a smaller company that focuses on organic, health food cereals. Canadian-based Nature's Path is the leading independent brand in this segment, and has carved out a significant presence in most grocery stores across North America. Obviously, they are going for a different look than Froot Loops, focusing on natural ingredients and messaging that reinforces their health orientation. With the changes they have announced, they are moving away from a more serious look to one that is somewhat less stuffy. This is accomplished with new layouts, stronger colors and more irreverent typeface. While in an interview with Packaging Design they gush over the changes, I'm not convinced the new boxes are all that they could be. In many ways, the new design is too busy, distracting from the serious cereals that Nature's Path is selling. The company also has a sub-brand, Envirokidz, targeted to children. These boxes are getting a new look as well, and these seem a much better fit.Again, these are just two examples of many box redesigns we have seen over the years. But, they illustrate the challenge that companies have in doing this. It is certainly not as easy as it seems, and the ultimate tests will be consumer reaction and sales. Having said that, however, very few of these design changes really make a big difference, as most companies are much too timid to try something truly "out of the box." There are some exceptions, however. Two of the best cereal box transformations that I have seen in recent years come from Kellogg-owned Kashi and Britain's Good Grain. Kashi went super simple focusing on a super-enlarged cereal piece on each white-spaced box, giving a distinct appearance. Good Grain demonstrated how to move away from a conventional cereal box also with greater simplicity, and pronounced color schemes.Changing cereal boxes is not by itself going to turn the tide of declining sales, but if cereal companies want to revitalize this industry, one important strategy is to focus more on the box, and the messages these important vehicles send to consumers looking for something interesting.[...]



Are cereal companies waving the white flag?

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 06:14:00 +0000

We all know that breakfast cereal is gradually losing its appeal among consumers. Sure, a large proportion of the population still enjoy a bowl most mornings, but increasingly, consumers are turning to other options. This is not new, and the big cereal companies, mainly General Mills and Kellogg, have long felt the trend first-hand, prompting them to diversify their brand portfolios to include a wide range of other food products, ranging from yogurt to cookies to meat alternatives.

Last week, during Kellogg's quarterly earnings call, we not only saw further evidence of this diversification, but a blatant admission that the future might not be centered around cereal. According to Food Industry News, CEO Stephen A. Cahillane said, "you shouldn’t look at U.S. Morning Foods and say this is going to be the growth engine for the Kellogg Co." Despite all their efforts, net sales for breakfast foods fell another 5%. Cahillane did state that they have to do more. In fact, he owned up to the fact that "getting people excited about it is our job to do. And we can do better in brand building in the United States."

Again, these trends are no surprise, but stating outright that breakfast foods (i.e. mainly cereal) are not the growth engine for Kellogg is evidence that the company is already looking past cereal, to greater opportunities in other food sectors. Callihane confessed that they are moving "from primarily a cereal business to much more of an innovative snacking business." Certainly, this does not mean they are abandoning cereal at this time, as it still is their core, but it does suggest they may be resigned to allow it to shrink while focusing on areas which they believe have greater potential.

It appears that the white flags may be reluctantly coming up, and that in the process the big cereal companies will no longer drive true cereal innovation. 



Review: General Mills' Blasted Shreds

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:35:00 +0000

This blog examines the significant news, trends and cultural impacts of cereal, so we rarely do actual reviews of the hundreds of brands and varieties out there. Nevertheless, every once in awhile a new cereal shows up that stands out from the predictable offerings in the grocery aisle, and worthy of an official taste test. General Mills' new Blasted Shreds fit this bill.We became aware of new Blasted Shreds (or simply "Shreds") last fall, when reports started coming out about several new cereals to be introduced by General Mills in 2018 (including Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes). On the surface, this appears to be just another whole wheat mini-biscuit, of which there are several on the market, such as Post Shredded Wheat, and Kellogg's Mini-Wheats. But, Shreds takes shredded wheat to a whole new level. These are highly flavored and sweetened, promising the best of taste and whole grain goodness. And, showing they're serious about this new brand, General Mills launched the brand with two powreful varieties: Peanut Butter Chocolate, and a co-branded Cinnamon Toast Crunch one. For this review, both will be examined together.We start with taste, and these cereals are rich in flavor. That is their selling point, incorporating familiar tastes that consumers will quickly gravitate toward. I concur. These were delightful. The naturally-flavored Peanut Butter Chocolate was perhaps a little too sweet on first bite, but once soaking in milk it all came together well. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch edition was OK, but not quite as good as original CTC. Somehow, with shredded wheat in the mix the popular cereal taste did not fully deliver, but nonetheless worth eating.Shred's texture is almost perfect. The small biscuits are easy to eat, even without milk. The well-blended flavorings prevent them from coming across as straw, as is common with shredded wheat. Add milk, and even after 5 or 10 minutes, these cereals hold up well and perform as one would expect and desire.There is more to cereal than when it is in your mouth. As an important part of food culture, the intangibles influence appeal as much as taste and texture. Again, Shred's deliver. General Mills was not interested in producing just another typical cereal brand, but was instead intentional to get people's attention. The box design presents a bold image of energy and taste, and the flavor choices themselves indicate a new cereal of great interest. And, for what it's worth, the experience of picking up a box is itself significant. This is a highly dense cereal, and a full box (of average size) has great heft, weighing almost one and a half pounds.General Mills is quick to emphasize that "Whole Grain is the 1st Ingredient." As a shredded wheat cereal, Shreds should be very wholesome, and for the most part, they are. Each 55g serving contains 7g of fiber and 6g of protein. The great taste, however, comes at a cost. The sugar content (22-23%) is slightly above ideal (20% maximum), and the addition of oils make the fat content (4.5-5g) much higher than is typical in most cereals. Broadly speaking, Shreds are nutritionally far superior to many cereals available today; but don't be fooled, this is not health food brand.Ultimately, reviewing Shreds was not disappointing. This is one of the most innovative developments from one of the big cereal manufacturers in quite some time. They should be a hit, and the prospects are good for this brand to expand to other flavors as well. So, if you haven't already, you should try them! They are not perfect, but all things considered, deserve a complete collection of Breakfast Bowl points![...]



The new world of cereal mashups

Thu, 11 Jan 2018 05:06:00 +0000

One of the big stories right now in the cereal world, first reported back in November, is General Mills' introduction of Frosted Flakes Lucky Charms in the past few weeks. This new product has captured the imagination of many cereal lovers, bringing together two of the most loved tastes.

On the surface, this appears to be a major win for General Mills, hitting their rival Kellogg right in the jugular, going after big K's GRRREAT brand. Fortunately, for imitators, Frosted Flakes is not a registered trademark, but General Mills did not stop with just the name - they also tried to copy the feel of Tony's cereal by going with a blue-themed box and an all caps, white typeface.

But, despite the marketing coup, is this cereal really that special? It's just Frosted Flakes with marshmallows, or Lucky Charms with flakes, depending on how you look at it. Apart from the intrigue of this combination, it is unlikely that it will persist. Even most of the reviews I've seen have been far from enthusiastic for the taste.

What is really significant here is the way that this mashup represents a new level in the battle among cereal companies and for the wallets of consumers. This is no ordinary new variation, but the leverage of two hot brands to create a new super product. This may be a way for cereal companies to generate new interest in cereal, tapping into existing emotions and creating creative recipes based on familiar tastes. Many people mix their own cereals anyway - now it could be done for them!

What mashups would you like to see?



2017 Cereal Year in Review: The Great Quest

Mon, 01 Jan 2018 00:57:00 +0000

As we come to the end of 2017, it is a good time to reflect on the past year, the key stories in the cereal world, and the overall themes we observe. It has been a busy year for those of us captivated by our favorite breakfast food, as cereal companies are trying hard to regain their foothold in an industry that is losing ground among consumers, especially younger generations.Of course, most noticeable to almost everyone, lots of new cereals were introduced. This year, however, there seemed to be more than ever and the pace of introductions appears to be accelerating. Predictably, there was the typical round of special edition cereals brought out seasonally, such as fall and the holidays. And, numerous line extensions, with new varieties of core brands, like Cheerios. Most interesting, however, was the launch of cereals connected with already strong brands. Post reintroduced Oreo O's after a decade hiatus, and followed up with similar concepts such as Honey Maid S'mores, Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butter. Also, notable for this past were the reintroduction of Classic Trix, and Kellogg's recent partnership with Nintendo to bring us Super Mario.Behind all the new cereals and marketing initiatives, the real story for 2017 is the quest of cereal companies to turn around the long-standing downward trend in sales, which, as reported by Food Business News, continued with another 2.3% decline compared to the previous year. Post, however, seems to be bucking the trend, eeking out a 0.14% increase. As we come to the end of the year, signs are that things may be turning around, with a late report, last week indicating that General Mills had a 7% U.S. cereal net sales increase, with Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Reese's Puffs showing the biggest increases.While it is far too early to tell if these glimmers of hope are part of an industry reversal, at minimum, they reveal that the frantic efforts of the big cereal companies may be paying off, if even only for the short term. The significant number of new cereals introduced in 2017 indicates that cereal companies are trying hard, not giving up on yet on this multi-billion dollar food sector. As I have indicated previously, much of what they are trying to do is to throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks. In this way, they hope to find something that will be the breakthrough they so desperately need. Kellogg's recent announcement of a Unicorn cereal coming in the spring of 2018 may be the best metaphor of the ongoing quest for the elusive goal facing the cereal industry.So, what's ahead for 2018? From what has already been announced, it is evident that the flood of new cereals will continue. These should, at least, keep consumers somewhat engaged, with the ongoing hope that the silver bullet will be found. Innovation remains the key for manufacturers, but eventually someone has to come up with something that will shake up the industry.If I were to go out on a limb, I would like to believe that this next year will see further advancements in cereal restaurants, and that the big players will use experiential locations to generate new excitement and interest in cereal outside of the traditional retail channels, and in environments that they can better control. Kellogg has already a jump on the others in the U.S., just having opened their permanent location in New York City, but there is so much more room for experimentation and creativity in this space.Regardless, pull up a bowl of your favorite cereal, and watch with anticipation for what lies ahead.Happy New Year![...]



Searching for unicorns

Sat, 16 Dec 2017 08:18:00 +0000

Unicorns have always been an object of fantasy. The mythical creatures are highly desired, but so far impossible to find.

Cereal companies, desperate to return to the good old days of cereal dominance, are in a similar quest for a seemingly equally elusive prize. As we have seen over and over, they keep trying by launching new products. In recent months this has evident in new cereals coming from General Mills and Kellogg. And, just this week Post got attention with the announcement of two new cookie-branded cereals: Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butter.

And, now, fitting to the unicorn metaphor, Kellogg has announced that in the U.S. this spring they will be introducing a limited edition Unicorn cereal, a revised take on a Froot Loop variant they recently released in the U.K. The new cereal is billed as being cupcake flavored, and should definitely attract the attention of children and others fascinated with unicorns.

There's an additional element to this story. While the new Unicorn cereal will not be in stores until March, their announcement ties in with the launch of another big Kellogg happening this week, the opening of their larger, permanent Kellogg's NYC cereal restaurant (a development we reported on this summer)  If you are in New York you can try the new cereal there now.

As we come close to the start of a New Year, it is typical for new cereals to be introduced. Will one of them be the true unicorn that will fulfill the fantasy of cereal executives and fanatics all at the same time? We keep hoping. 




General Mills looking for love

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:44:00 +0000

Maybe it's not big news, but in these challenging times for cereal companies, attempts to turn the tide are at minimum interesting. Last week General Mills unveiled a new (or at least updated) logo, the sixth in almost 90 years. Changing the corporate logo by itself is hardly going to really impact cereal sales, but it is a sign of how the company sees itself, and how it wants others to see it.

At first glance, the changes might not be apparent. The big "G," which has been at the core of the company's identity remains. But, added to that is a bright red heart, all accompanied by a new tagline, "Making Food People Love." 

Obviously, the slight modification is a direct, albeit subtle, attempt to tug at consumers' emotions, humanizing a large, global corporation. But, in the end, not much has really changed. I doubt, for example, that most people will even consciously notice the change. Branding and logo expert, Armin Vit, minimized the significance of the change, saying that "a heart, coming from one of the biggest companies in the world, feels so inauthentic. Even if they mean it — and I’m sure they do — it’s like, no, just be a money-making company and leave all of our collective feelings at the door."

I guess the test will be if more love finds it way to General Mills.



Kellogg's sweet dilemma

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:45:00 +0000

One of the major problems facing the cereal industry today is the perception that many breakfast cereals contain far too much processed sugar. This has irritated health professionals, concerned parents, and nutrition conscious people in general who are increasingly turning to other morning food options. For years the big companies have been feeling the heat, and in response have modified their recipes to utilize less sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients; and, in turn, increase the use of fiber-rich whole grains.Yet, despite the efforts of Kellogg, General Mills, and others to reduce sugar, the transition to more healthful cereals is not at all simple. Kellogg discovered this recently when they announced radical changes for cereals that are targeted to children in the United Kingdom. For example, they stated that Coco Pops will see a 40% reduction in sugar, and 20% less in Rice Krispies. Ricicles (called Frosted Rice Krispies in the U.S.) will be discontinued altogether. Frosties (Frosted Flakes in North America) will not be changed, however, will no longer be marketed to children.On the surface, this all sounds good, but there is much more to the story here. First, it is important to note that Kellogg UK is really late to the game. We have known for quite some time that despite the reformulations that have taken place in the U.S., this was not happening to the same degree in Great Britain. Cereals there have generally contained 30% more sugar than their U.S. counterparts. So, across the pond they have been resisting this change, but obviously realize that they can no longer do so. These latest moves are nutritionally sound, but do demonstrate that companies like Kellogg are not as committed to nutrition as they would like you to believe. Ultimately, instead of doing the right thing, they wait as long as possible until there is enough pressure forcing them to do so.The reason for this reluctance is the fact that even though many want them to change, there is a large group of consumers who do not want their beloved cereals to be tampered with. In Britain, for example, there has been an outcry from those who do not want Ricicles to leave the market. Companies understand this, as was seen in the recent move by General Mills to go back to their less healthy, artificially-enhanced Trix formula. Even Kellogg UK recognizes this, as it is unwilling to meddle with Frosties, one of their best-sellers. This means making compromises, even as some critics call them out for their hypocrisy, believing that claims to no longer target children are ineffective and hypocritical.In other words, reducing sugar and otherwise making popular cereal brands healthier is not as easy as it appears. Cereal companies are feeling lots of pressure from all sides, and realize that finding the right balance is difficult in a challenging market.[...]



The real significance of new Super Mario Cereal

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 06:35:00 +0000

The Internet was abuzz within the past couple of weeks with the news that Kellogg was partnering with Nintendo to launch a new, limited edition Super Mario Cereal that will be available by December 11th. This is far more than just another cereal with marshmallows, but one that is associated with a prominent video game adored by many consumers. On these facts alone, it is easily one of the most "fun" new cereals to launch in quite some time.

That all makes sense, so the hoopla is not unexpected. Of course, this isn't the first video game-themed cereal (think Donkey Kong in 1982, Pac-Man in 1983, and a 1988 Nintendo Cereal System brand also featuring Super Mario, along with Zelda). But, what makes this latest Nintendo branded cereal really stand out is the fact that the box can actually become part of the electronic gaming experience.

Built into every box are NFC (near-field communication) tags that be detected by the new Nintendo Switch game controllers, which is similar to how Nintendo's "amiibo" figurines can also be linked up. When the controller and the box are in contact, users receive virtual gold coins or hearts as power-ups during the game. In other words, this cereal is more than just a promotional item - it also functions as an accessory.

Nintendo has been regaining cachet within the video gaming world with their new Switch system, and this tie in with cereal will certainly add to their growing brand capital. But, this should also be a boost to Kellogg as well. Interestingly, however, the Kellogg's logo is not found on the box cover, so being downplayed many consumers might not even realize this comes from the Battle Creek company. Nonetheless, in addition to the sales of cereal, this could be a tremendous learning experience for Kellogg on how to partner effectively with other strong brands.

I have long advocated that there are many opportunities for more co-branding between cereal companies and non-food entities. Obviously, this is not new, but this latest Kellogg-Nintendo partnership suggests that it could be taken to a much higher level. We've seen movies, TV shows and sports heavily linked over the years, but what about clothing, cars, music, travel, causes, etc.?

All this might be just what is needed to get people eating out of their bowls regularly every morning.

(Image: Nintendo)





What's the deal with granola?

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 05:44:00 +0000


When thinking about breakfast cereal, most of the attention is directed to the highly-processed cereals coming from the mainstream cereal companies. These are highly marketed, and get the most shelf space in the grocery store. Yet, often the grandfather of cereals, granola, seems to be missing in the discussion.

Granola is still a thing. In fact, go down any cereal aisle and you are likely to see a plethora of granola varieties, although they are usually in their own section, away from the boxed cereals that take up most of the space. Obviously, people are still eating granola, and we even see the big companies buying up granola startups and instilling innovation in the category, as with Kellogg's Bear Naked brand.

Granola goes back to the late 19th century, and came out of the same cereal-based health craze that also brought us corn flakes and the modern cereal industry. Granola gained new life back in the 1960's health food movement, although, interestingly, despite its whole ingredients, often contains as much or more sugar than many conventional cereals. Compared to other cereals, however, granola stands out as unique because it is typically based on oat flakes, and is mixed with a wide range of other ingredients, such as nuts, dried fruits, and sweeteners like honey. It is fairly easy for almost anyone to make themselves, and to this day many people still do that. Granola has its roots in the United States, and has similarities to its Europen cousin, muesli, although the latter is not baked or sweetened.

One of the main reasons for granola's continued prominence is its versatility. It can be eaten with milk, but is also easily blended with yogurt, and is a much more interesting snack food than conventional cereal. Granola can also be used as a topping on desserts, and made into other forms, such as the ever popular granola bars.

All this to say: granola remains a big part of the cereal equation, even though its significance is often underestimated. There is probably room for growth in this sector if companies are able to find unique selling points. The problem, however, is that granola faces the same challenges as other cereals. There are way too many brands, and not enough innovation. Sure, some claim to be organic, all natural, or with unusual ingredients, but it is hard to really stand out. Ultimately, this side of the grocery aisle is getting just as crowded, and suffers from the same problems confronting the entire industry.

Do you eat granola? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 



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 category. 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 product called Shreds in peanut butter chocolate and Cinnamon Toast Crunch varieties. And, we are very likely to see Kellogg and Post pull out 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 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.