Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New beginning for Post

As reported last fall, Kraft sold its Post cereal division to private-brand food maker, Ralcorp. It look likes the deal will close next week.

This should be watched closely for several reasons: First, it will be interesting to see how a private-label company responds to controlling a big brand like Post. Second, despite some recent advancements and its strong Honey Bunches of Oats line, Post has been a struggling cereal brand in the last decade or more. Can it be revived to a position of prominence again?

(See article in St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cereal cost

Food prices have been rising lately, and cereal has been no exception. Obviously, the high cost of fuel has certainly been a major factor. Some also blame the increased production of ethanol from corn which is driving up food prices.

A chart produced by the Toronto Star provides an interesting look into what costs go into a box of cereal. Most significant is that the actual cost of the grains comprise only 2% of the cost, and transportation accounts for 4.5% (but that could be rising). If these numbers are close to being accurate, it corrects some misconceptions we might have as to why cereal prices are really rising. Which prompts one to ask: Are the cereal companies completely honest when they communicate the reasons for higher prices and shrinking boxes? It's too easy to blame fuel prices, etc.

It also shows: Processed foods have little to do with the actual ingredients.

Worth thinking about.

(See larger version of chart here)

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Can you identify the cereal?

Need some summer fun and distractions?

Try this Breakfast Cereal ID Quiz over at AOL Food. They give you 20 pictures of actual cereal pieces and you have to identify them. Some are easy, others much more difficult. Plus, some interesting trivia tidbits.

I scored 19 out of 20.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

More vintage

Upon further reflection of my recent post on vintage cereal boxes I have come up with an idea that cereal companies may want to seriously consider.

What about vintage cereals, not just vintage boxes?

That's right, cereal companies could tap into our fascination with nostalgia by re-introducing cereals from the past in vintage packaging. They wouldn't have to be permanent additions, but limited editions. No more than one or two at a time would be needed by each company, but it would be a great way to capture sales in a highly competitive marketplace. I also suspect they could charge a little more and still sell them out.

Wouldn't it be great to taste again Kellogg's OKs or Puffa Puffa Rice? General Mills would have many excellent choices to offer, such as Sir Grapefellow, Crazy Cow, or Twinkles. What about Quaker Quake (they've already done this with Quisp!)? Or, Ralston Freakies? And, of course, Post Pink Panther Flakes!

We're tired of yet another flavor of Special K, or a new marshmallow in Lucky Charms.

How about something a little more exciting?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vintage Post

Vintage cereal boxes are not new (General Mills made some earlier this year). Now it's Post's turn.

I recently came across three of their cereals in vintage-looking boxes: Raisin Bran, Spoon-Size Shredded Wheat, and Grape Nuts. While not as authentic looking as what I've seen from General Mills and Kellogg, they are nonetheless fun, especially with the historical information on the back panels.

Nostalgia is a great way to sell cereal, as the morning breakfast bowl is deeply embedded in our culture and on our psyches. Cereal companies need to tap into this more.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Cereal Bowl leading restaurant race

Over the past few years I have been watching with interest the fledgling growth of cereal restaurants. It's an innovative concept that has much promise, but is still struggling to get traction.

Exactly one year ago today the initial frontrunner in the race, Cereality, was bought out by Cold Stone Creamery. While Cold Stone has experimented with two combo stores (one in Colorado, the other in Arizona), Cereality is down to four locations. They had such promise.

The clear leader in the race today is the The Cereal Bowl. They now have twenty-two franchise locations, and are looking ahead with new store designs suited for more urban areas than college campuses, and new sustainable packaging. They appear to be one to watch now. (Source: QSR magazine).

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Give it away

Cereal samples have been around for quite some time. But Kellogg is pushing the concept even further by actually giving away full boxes of cereal.

OK, they're not handing out boxes in the stores, but certain new cereals have a "Try FREE" banner on the top. You simply send in your receipt and a form from inside the box and they will send you a check for the amount. A creative way to get people's attention. But, like most rebate programs, the actual number of people who bother to send in the form will probably be low. Yet, it could be a good marketing investment for Kellogg.

This offer appears to be on the new Smart Start Strong Heart Strawberry Oat Bites, and I've seen it on the new Frosted Mini-Wheat Blueberry Muffin flavor. If successful you may see it on other new cereals too.

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