Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review: goh-goh granolas

Last week I reported on the innovative new goh-goh cereals that only require added water because of the powdered milk in the single-serving cups. This is intended to be the ultimate in cereal convenience. Sunny Crunch Foods sent me samples of their four current offerings, and here's a combined review of them.

While goh-goh is expected to be eventually available in other cereal types, at present the focus is on granola. The four varieties are: Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Chocolate Chip Crunch, Honey Hemp & Flax, and Raisin & Almond.

The unique selling point of goh-goh cereals is the powdered milk. So, when evaluating taste the issue extends beyond the normal profile of ingredients. The ultimate question is: Can goh-goh match the taste of real milk in cereal? In short, the answer is, mostly. I must admit to having been skeptical at first, having many bad memories of disgusting skim milk powders in the past. goh-goh is really clear that they are using dehydrated whole milk, and the difference is noticeable. While I cannot say that the taste is 100% identical to real milk, it comes pretty close according to my taste buds. My wife, however, is much more taste sensitive, and was not as forgiving. Nonetheless, I believe that most people will not be distracted by the milk taste, and if anything, will overlook any minor differences due to the convenience advantages.

As far as the cereals themselves are concerned, they are fairly typical granolas, despite the variance in ingredients. My favorite, clearly, was the Blueberry Greek Yogurt, followed by the Chocolate Chip Crunch. Most disappointing was the Raisin & Almond. There were maybe 3 or 4 raisins in the entire cup, and its incorporation of rice crisps lessened that wholesome granola impact. All said, the taste of these hardly stand out, however, any one would be satisfying for most people on the run.

As granolas, these cereals are fairly predictable as far as texture is concerned. The oats have substance and hold out well in milk. Generally, the ingredients were much finer than in typical granolas, and there were virtually no granola clusters anywhere. The only texture disappointment relates to my previous comment on the Raisin & Almond variety. The rice crisps made for a much less hearty serving.
The convenience of just adding water contributes greatly to a wow experience for those looking to eat breakfast on the run. Again, this is what makes this cereal stand out. the packaging highlights this, but I find the overall design of the single-serving cups too cluttered, thereby potentially distracting from the strong message that consumers need to see when seeing these in a store.

goh-goh also wants to position these cereals as wholesome and nutritious. As granolas they meet that standard, for the most part. Each serving is in the 220-290 calorie range and with significant fiber. Sugar content, as is typical with granolas, is slightly higher than ideal, in the 20-30% range of total weight category; but in reality it is actually higher compared to other cereals, considering that milk is also included in the calculations. Nonetheless, you could do much more worse in picking a cereal.
In the end, goh-goh granolas are a solid choice for consumers, especially when considering the convenience factor. Having these on the go would be an excellent option for most people, and may keep more people eating cereal in an age when people are turning to other foods for their morning nourishment. 
All you need is a spoon. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

goh-goh: Just add water

One of the frequently stated reasons for the decline of cereal consumptions is the trend toward greater convenience among consumers. Pouring a bowl of cereal with milk seems to be too arduous for some people, prompting them to switch to alternatives like bars and yogurt. For decades, cereal has come in convenient, single-serve packs, but there is always the problem with the milk. There has been some innovation with double-containers to keep the cereal and milk separate until consumption, including an attempt by Kellogg in 2005, and a more recent invention last year; but none of these have taken off.

Canadian company, Sunny Crunch Foods, has come up with a different approach: individual cereal cups with powdered milk - only water is needed to make your breakfast. Branded as goh-goh, this new line of on-the-go cereal has been recently available in Canada, but this month is making its U.S. debut in 7-Eleven stores, with planned expansion to larger grocery retailers. Executive Vice-President, Jeff Wagoner, told me that a challenge they face is that because of the uniqueness of the product buyers do not yet know what to think about it. "But, once they realize the value-added aspect of having the milk already in the cereal (just add cold water), it being shelf-stable and portable (take it anywhere), coupled with the all-natural ingredients aspect makes Goh-Goh Cereal Cups an exciting new product entry into the breakfast category!"

To be fair, this is not the first attempt of cereal cups with powdered milk. A few years ago, U.K. cereal maker, Mornflake, introduced a similar product, but it is no longer available. Perhaps one reason is they used skimmed milk powder, which many consumers do not find palatable. goh-goh uses whole milk, which is designed to come much closer to what people are used to in their cereal.

Currently, goh-goh comes in four granola flavors: Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Chocolate Chip Crunch, Honey Hemp & Flax, and Raisin & Almond. Wagoner said that they are planning to introduce other types of cereals (i.e. corn flakes, puffed rice, etc.) as well.

The company sent me some samples, and I will be posting a review of them in the coming days.

So, are you interested in this type of convenient cereal?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Is the future of cereal in flavor?

The big question in the mind of cereal manufacturers and marketers is how to bring new life to a food commodity that no longer has the same appeal to consumers. We have frequently discussed this problem and the possible innovations that could make a difference, but perhaps one obvious factor may be overlooked: flavor.

A recent article in Food Business News examines the issue of flavor in cereal and reveals some of the interesting possibilities ahead for our favorite breakfast food. Author, Jeff Gelski, provides a comprehensive view the various factors behind flavoring cereals, making for an interesting read. He suggests that flavor provides a tremendous opportunity for innovation, and that new flavors are about to hit the market, like mango, chili pepper and honey, and candy.

The point in all this is that there is much room for creativity and pushing new boundaries when it comes to cereal. Most of what we see out there is a re-hashing of what has been done before: marshmallows, fruit flavors, chocolate, peanut butter, cinnamon, etc. Rarely do we see something that completely disrupts the market, and yet the industry is in desperate need for something that captures the imagination of consumers. And, with many people eating cereal outside of breakfast, there is probably a real market for such varieties as spicy and savoury.

Back in 2016, I highlighted Kellogg owned Bear Naked's foray into cereal customization. Modeled after Germany's mymuesli, Bear Naked allows online customers to create their own combinations, now with such wild options as lavender, pale ale, jalapeno, bacon, bourbon, coffee, chipotle, beets, wine, olives, kale and curry, among more conventional choices. It's hard to say how popular these choices are, and this approach is still far from the mainstream.

Maybe it's time for a startup to take this on, or better yet for the big cereal companies to step outside of their comfort zone and present consumers with some choices that will truly get their attention.

What cereal flavors would you like to see?