Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Post Honey Bunches of Oats - Morning Energy

January is always a busy month in the cereal world as companies see it as a perfect opportunity to launch new brands and varieties. This year is no exception. So, over the coming weeks I will review a few of the new cereals that have caught my attention. As always, it is impossible (and not necessary) to review every cereal on the market, but hopefully these samplings will provide a glimpse into some of the noteworthy additions to the market.

One of the most successful current cereal franchises is Post's Honey Bunches of Oats, and there are now a plethora of varieties available. The latest, however, adds a slightly new twist. New Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch is obvious targeting those who are looking for a morning boost, both in energy and nutrition. It contains a mixture of chocolatey chunks, almonds, "crispy flakes, crunchy oat clusters, and a touch of wildflower honey." If it sells well, we may likely see other flavors coming in this sub-brand. So, how does this cereal stack up?

As a medley of various components Honey Bunches of Oats cereals typically provide a tasty breakfast, and new Morning Energy is no exception. In fact, the combination of chocolate and almonds alone make this is a delightful treat. Not too sweet, and only natural flavors. You can't go wrong on taste.

Again, a big part of the success of Honey Bunches of Oats has been the creative mixtures they have put together. This results not only in good tastes, but interesting textures. The combination here of flakes, clusters, almond slices and chocolate pieces gives a good feel in the mouth. Generally it all holds up well in milk, except that at 10 minutes the many smaller pieces lose the battle.

Keeping these 17 or so varieties of Honey Bunches of Oats interesting is no easy feat, but Post has done it with Morning Energy, by giving the box and logo a bold, energetic look. Even if the cereal doesn't offer much more appreciable food energy than most cereals, the box jumps. The overall experience is also enhanced by the chocolatey chunks - a touch of perceived authenticity.

An important part of the selling point for Morning Energy is its nutritional qualities, especially 6 grams of protein. For a cereal promoting energy it is not overladen with sugar (around 20% of total weight), but instead claims "energy that lasts", a reference to the higher protein quantity. It also boasts 5 grams of fiber per serving. All of this in combination with the usual fortified vitamins and minerals makes for a solid, healthful cereal.

All in all this is a solid new entry for 2014, and Post keeps finding a way to make Honey Bunches of Oats a brand of preference for many people. New Morning Energy certainly won't disappoint.

 (Review Protocol HERE)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Poppin' Pebbles bring fun back to cereal

If consumers are getting bored with cereal, one of the ways around that is to come up with innovative new cereals that jump out of the bowl. Perhaps even literally.

Post is trying this strategy with new Poppin' Pebbles, the latest iteration in its popular children's targeted brand, Pebbles. But this is more than just a cereal loaded with sugar and artificial colors and flavors. This cereal claims that it "Fizzes in Your Mouth with Burstin' Berry Flavor". The secret is round green pieces that actually contain carbon dioxide. Mixed with liquid they are designed to create a fizzing sensation, perhaps somewhat like Pop Rocks candy. Certainly Rice Krispies have had "snap, crackle, and pop" for decades, but admittedly this version of Pebbles is much more fun to play with and eat.

Will Poppin' Pebbles truly fizz in bowls across the country, or will they fizzle out like so many other ideas?

Monday, January 13, 2014

HOT cereal

With concerns that cereal sales are down, or flat at best, a recent report suggests that one notable category exception is hot cereal, whose sales are up 4%. The hottest company is unsurprisingly Quaker, the leader in Oatmeal.

I have talked about this phenomenon before, but the evidence is growing. There are many reasons for this, part of which is people looking for something different than the same old cold cereals. And, porridges are a great comfort food, especially at this time of year. In addition these are generally perceived as healthier, and there may be some evidence to support that belief. For example, a recent study found that oatmeal helps you feel fuller longer.

There is growing innovation taking place in the hot cereal sector, and this could be the hot trend to watch this coming year.

(Source: Bakery and Snacks)

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Non-GMO Cheerios

General Mills is wasting no time at the beginning of 2014 to continue doing everything it can to stay on the growing edge. The company announced that Cheerios will be made entirely with non-GMO ingredients, particularly their source of corn starch and cane sugar (i.e. there are no GMO oats). The move comes because they "think consumers may embrace it", and they want to do everything they can to stay in the good graces of consumers in this tough market. And, people do care as is evidenced by the debacle Kashi faced a couple of year ago over GMO ingredients.

To be clear, General Mills has not had a conversion experience. They admit they believe genetically modified seeds are safe, and they claim that they are not responding to pressure. It's purely a PR move, and while somewhat disingenuous, it is an important move on their part.

(Source: General Mills blog)