Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) - the joint venture between General Mills and Nestlé - has added oats to the formulation and drastically slashed the sugar content in the cereal to 1.4 g per 30 g serving, down from 6.2 g in regular Cheerios.
“That’s a big step, a really big step,” said David Jago, director of innovation at Mintel. “They’ve gone way out there – I think it’s bold. It’s probably because they’ve recognized the fact sugar is at the forefront,” he told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Mintel research from 2014 showed 47% of UK consumers thought flavored cereal brands, like Cheerios, were too high in sugar.
“The timing is absolutely right – sugar is absolutely at the forefront and Cheerios is the right brand to do it with. It’s typically a family-orientated, fairly basic brand and so from that point of view it’s a good move provided the price point is okay.”
Last month, Action on Sugar published a report that showed sugar content had risen in one-fifth of UK breakfast cereals since 2012.
The proof is in the pudding
Jago said the product would likely do well, gaining traction among parents in particular, thanks to the addition of oats.
“Kids aren’t going to be interested in the oats part, or sugar part, but the parents will be keen…Mum and Dad buyers are ready for a product like this, but whether they can get the kids to eat it is another question.”
It could become more of an adult product, he said, but either way taste would be critical considering it was such a “drastic” cut in sugar.
What’s the difference to regular Cheerios?
The low-sugar oat variety is made with 98% whole grain oat flour and some wheat starch versus regular Cheerios which contain a range of whole grain flours - 24.9% oat; 24.9% wheat; 17.1% barley; 7.4% rice; and 3.5% maize
The sugar content per 30 g serving is 1.4 g versus 6.2 g in regular Cheerios which contains sugar as well as partially inverted brown sugar syrup salt
Ingredients list for low-sugar oat Cheerios: Whole Grain Oat Flour (98%), Wheat Starch, Sugar, Salt, Aciditiy Regulator: Tripotassium Phosphate, Antioxidant: Tocopherols
Ingredients list for regular Cheerios: Whole Grain Oat Flour (24.9%), Whole Grain Wheat (24.9%), Whole Grain Barley Flour (17.1%), Whole Grain Rice Flour (7.4%), Whole Grain Maize Flour (3.5%), Sugar, Wheat Starch, Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Colours: Caramel, Annatto and Carotene, Antioxidant: Tocopherols, Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium Carbonate, Iron
Asked if the move from CPW would spark other brands to follow suit, he said: “I suspect others will wait and see… I think it’s a smart move, but you’ve got to bear in mind that there are very few others that have done it – very few in the mainstream aisle have stepped out with a low-sugar version.”
However, he said there wasn’t another large cereal brand on the market that would suit such a hefty sugar reduction.
“I can’t see another really obvious brand from Kellogg, for example, that you could do it with. What I mean is, Cheerios really does come across as a family consumption brand – adults, kids of all age ranges eat it, people snack on it, eat it for breakfast – it’s very broad in that respect. If you look for other brands you could do it with, you’re looking at some fairly basic cereal products and I don’t think there’s necessarily the need for that.”