Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Are these cereal breakfast the future generation of all day snacking?


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IMG00734-20091123-1142Breakfast cereals are fast evolving from “old style” corn, rice or oat traditional flakes. Do you remember when until five or six years ago you could find those simple breakfast cereal at the supermarket? Lots of big rectangular boxes with all those boring, thin, small and crispy little flakes inside. Experts had to come up with promotional little toys and CD in order to differentiate a brand from another till something suddenly happened. At the beginning, the change introduced by producers was timid. However the consumers’ requirements for new, more appealing and healthy products were so strong that the evolution started to create new and very attractive goods. Cameo started its Vitalis line of products with flakes mixed with fruits and almonds; Nestlè introduced Fitness with toasted grains, flakes and chocolate then Barilla through one of its brands Mulino Bianco  presented  Grancereali. These are just a few examples of some of the most famous brands.  All of them presented a mix of oat, barely, whole wheat toasted grains coated with honey, mixed with chocolate and dry fruits enriched with fibers and vitamins. Good nutrients with label showing overall fat as low as 5 to 6 % and fibers as high as 6 to 7%. This type of products has already healthy label values far better than traditional salty snacks, which are trying to find their way out from conventional perception of junk foods with high amount of fat and salt content. In fact, on salty snacks side of business (what????) many market players are trying to toast extruded products instead of frying them. The final results are fairly good from an oil intake point of view but, truth to be told there is still a lot to improve with regard to flavor, formulation and overall taste side, as the toasted salty snacks are usually too dry, and the structures are too dense. Many producers aim to reduce overall salt content below 1%, increase fibers and protein content re-formulating existing products major and minor ingredients. However, these actions on salty snacks applied in order to move toward health authorities’ new requirements and strong consumers’ desires for “better” products are showing just some improvements where else the new generation of cereal breakfast is already meeting both requirements and desires. Also, packaging is showing positive signs of changes. From large rectangular boxes, breakfast cereals are now sold packed in resalable bags. Once a mix of different and healthy ingredients like these are packed in “handy” or “on the go” type of packaging, snacking habits will move from traditional potato chips to five cereals, honey & dry fruits rather than crunchy muesli with dark chocolate pieces and cherries. I am sure in 3 to 5 years, most of today’s “traditional” salty snacks will be perceived by consumers as part of long gone past, almost like watching a black and white TV today.

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