Legislation and heightened consumer awareness are leading to something of a revolution in the cereal aisles, as particular focus has been directed at the sugar and salt levels of certain breakfast staples. In response, manufacturers have reformulated their lines to keep up with demands, and many have expanded their cereal offerings to focus on new demographics, including a range from Kellogg marketed to women looking for a weight-loss aid.
Special K is by no means a new brand, but the manufacturer has further focused its marketing on the product's healthy benefits, noting it is a source of fiber and 10 essential nutrients, a good source of protein...and noting it "may help consumers achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, because it is low in fat." Kellogg also expanded Special K, adding the brand to a line of savory herb crackers, while still retaining the health positioning: promising 90 calories per 17 crackers.
In Europe, manufacturers are facing more restrictive legislation on health claims. Beginning this past summer, all new foods making a health claim must be checked for accuracy, before they may go on sale, and new, legally binding definitions for "high fiber," "low fat" and "reduces cholesterol" are now in place. As of yet, the U.S. is free of these increased restrictions, but legislators are undoubtedly gauging the effectiveness of these strengthened rules.
While hot cereals are not the largest segment of the cereal category, one interesting introduction has managed to address several of the biggest trends facing the food industry. Three Sisters Cereal's Brown Sugar & Maple Multigrain Hot Cereal is all-natural and contains six whole grains, flax seed and real fruit, according to the company. Furthermore, it promises to be a good source of ALA omega-3, to be naturally free from trans fat and cholesterol, and to be quickly prepared in the microwave. Furthermore, the product's package promises to contain less packaging than other cereal brands, and the company notes it uses electricity credits from Windsource and strives to reduce its waste and water usage.
ALA omega-3 was also found in Pomegranate Raspberry Clusters, under the Cascadian Farm Organic Flax Right brand; certified organic and kosher, the manufacturer promises it is grown "without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically engineered ingredients." Meanwhile, Weetabix introduced its own take on hot cereal, though one that proved versatile, as the company boasted Oatibix could be served with cold or warm milk.
General Mills has devoted particular attention to its cereal line, expanding a pair of its stalwart brands with strong launches, boosting the company's 3Q profits by 15%, as revenue from its Big G cereals jumped 6%. Wheaties Fuel promised to be an excellent source of fiber and 100% of the daily value of B vitamins. The whole-wheat flakes and crisp rice cereal promises a honey and cinnamon flavor, with a packaging that features extremely close-up headshots of famous athletes.
Furthermore, General Mills notes its Chocolate Cheerios has been a particular success. According to the company, the Chocolate Cheerios whole-grain and -oat cereals are "made with real cocoa and may reduce the risk of heart disease, as it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol." The product, which carries a heart proclaiming its health benefits on the front of the package, has reportedly "taken off faster than any new General Mills cereal in 10 years," the company claimed in an Associated Press release.
North America saw a number of high-profile cereal products catering to the natural consumer, including some of those with an interest in sustainability. Quaker Foods and Beverages introduced Shredded Wheat Cereal under its Quaker Muffets brand in Canada. The all-natural cereal boasted 100% whole grains and to be a high source of fiber, in addition to being low in fat and free of trans fat and cholesterol.
In the U.S., Isabel's Way launched Honey Graham Crisp Cereals, an all-natural, honey-sweetened, whole-grain wheat and corn cereal certified as kosher and free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Most notable about the product was its packaging: the 12oz bag used 75% less packaging than boxed cereal, claimed the company, which also touted its support of the use of renewable wind energy.
Under its Sweet Enough brand, Newman's Own added Cinnamon Fiber Flakes, a blend of wheat bran cereal with cinnamon and brown sugar. Fortified with vitamins, the all-natural cereal promises to be low in sugar, high in fiber and without high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), trans fat, preservatives, or artificial colors and flavors.
Health trends are likely to be the driving influence for breakfast cereals, as legislative efforts are putting pressure on manufacturers to reduce salt and sugar content and to improve the overall healthy positioning of many of their cereal products, particularly those aimed at children. That said, manufacturers may well want to expand their focus beyond that demographic and target young adults, for instance, as Kellogg has done with its Krave in the U.K., focusing on people aged 16-25.pf