Friday, October 28, 2016

Bear Naked Goes Wild

Recently I highlighted the new custom cereal venture at Bear Naked, a Kellogg company. Since then I've placed my first order in order to test the process. Within a few days my canister arrived, presented in an attractive box, along with a handwritten note, thanking me for my order. The experience has been pleasant, reinforcing my observation that they are really trying hard to get this right.

Another feature of Bear Naked's version of customization is the inclusion of unique ingredients not commonly found in breakfast cereals, such as jalapeno, lavender, kale and olives. The whole point of that is to position granola as something that can be eaten not just at breakfast, but even at other times in the day when you want stronger, savory flavors. Since my first post, Bear Naked has added several more novel flavors that should definitely get consumers' attention. Most notable, are two non-alcoholic wine varieties, and also a bourbon flavor.

Not having tried any of these truly wild flavors, I can't really comment as to whether these types of granola will start a new eating trend. At minimum, however, these bold additions to the ingredient options should generate buzz, whether or not people actually try them. Of course, the key will be marketing, something I haven't really seen too much of so far.

Give Bear Naked credit for an worthy experiment, and we'll keep watching to see if this adds new life to the cereal industry in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Girl Scouts cereals

A venerable part of American culture is the annual sale of cookies by Girl Scouts, a leadership development organization for girls. Now it appears that you could be supporting this respected program by purchasing some new cereals that are being produced for the Girl Scouts by General Mills. There has not been an official announcement on this partnership yet, but sightings of two new cereals have appeared on influenster.com and the Instagram account of candyhunting.

According to the box images, the two new cereals will come in Caramel Crunch and Thin Mints varieties, the latter being a truly innovative flavor for cereal. The cereals are obviously take-offs of cookies. It also appears these will be limited edition.

The big question is whether these cereals will be sold in stores or by the Girl Scouts themselves. We'll be watching for more details, so that we can try them!

UPDATE 10/24/16: General Mills confirmed on Twitter that these cereals will be arriving in January.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Bear Naked goes custom

I've long been an advocate of customized cereals, largely because of the innovation and success of mymuesli in Germany. There were several attempts in the U.S. over the years, but earlier this year when the last one closed, it looked like those small-scale ventures were the last gasp for giving American consumers the opportunity to create their own cereal mixes. But, others are still seeing the potential, including MyCerealMix, a small player; and, now I have discovered that Kellogg-owned Bear Naked also launched their own customization effort earlier this year.

Bear Naked Custom Made Granola is a website (bearnakedcustom.com) that allows consumers the opportunity to create their own granola recipe and have it shipped to them in an attractive canister. On the surface this is very similar to the other companies that have entered this field at some point, but there are some noteworthy differences. First, this is a well-designed online store, backed by one of the major cereal manufacturers. Second, they are stepping outside the ordinary with fifty different non-GMO ingredients, including several very novel ones for cereal, such as jalapeno, lavender, kale and olives. These diverse ingredients allow for some out-of-the-box combinations, including some "chef blends" with names like "Chocolate Strawberry Jalapeno," and "Olive You, Kale."

The ordering process is pretty simple, although there are certain limits when creating your mix. There are only three granola bases to start with, and you can only add three additional ingredients. Bare Naked brags that their website is powered by IBM's Watson to help you create the perfect blend, but I have not found that feature to be that useful. Once you have determined your recipe, you get to choose from one of five canister designs, featuring a different styled bear. The price is $9.99 for 11oz, and that includes shipping.

This is a major development. For the first time a major U.S. player is entering the custom cereal market. So far, this seems low profile, as I haven't seen any advertising, other than a few social media posts. It somehow passed my notice until now, and I doubt that many others have really tapped into it yet either. If Kellogg wants this to be successful they will need to find some way to get the word out, and entice consumers with the opportunity to create cereals that they might actually eat!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

What impact will new GMO disclosures have?

I recently noticed that a number of cereal boxes from Kellogg, General Mills and Post were starting to appear on grocers' shelves with an inconspicuous phrase indicating that they are made with genetically modified organisms (GMO's). This is the result of a new federal law that will require certain foods to be labelled as such.

Pressure has been mounting for this type of legislation, as many consumers are concerned about the health effects of GMO ingredients. This labelling will provide people the information they need to make informed choices.

Of course, a brief mention on the side of a cereal box is likely to be missed my most people, but it does raise the question as to whether this will have a further negative impact on the sale of major brands of breakfast cereals. Will this give health-conscious consumers one more reason to look for alternatives? Certainly, some cereals are non-GMO, but more are not. Cereal manufacturers will need to pay close attention, and respond accordingly if it appears that this labelling further tarnishes cereal's reputation.