But there are a few bright spots, including natural and organic cereal, granola and children’s cereals that are fun but also healthier than mainstream options, according to Barbara’s Bakery Inc. – a pioneer in the natural foods movement that is celebrating its 45th anniversary and the launch of new cereals.
“Cereal actually is a category that you’ll hear a lot of news that it’s declining and in general the mainstream category has declined the last couple of years” about 3-4%, said Barbara’s Marketing Director Tim Kenny.
But, he added, “the natural cereal category has continued to grow,” and even the mainstream cereal category is rebounding to the extent it is offering more natural, organic, non-GMO cereals that are healthier than previous options.
Within the natural and better-for-you cereal segment, “granola is one of the hottest segments within the category,” Kenny said.
He explained, however, granola has a lot of room for improvement, which Barbara’s hopes to bring with the launch of its Better Granola.
“When we looked at the granola segment, what we saw was people thought they were eating super healthy products, but if you actually looked at a lot of those granolas you’d see they were high in fat and high in sugar,” Kenny said.
He acknowledged that “they did have a lot of whole grains in them and in most cases had some fiber, but we were making something of a trade-off there with a lot of sugar and a lot of fat.”
Barbara’s Bakery thought it could offer something healthier with the launch of its Better Granola, which as the name suggests is better for you with less sugar and more whole grains. The granola blends toasted oat clusters with cereal puffs, almonds, ancient grains and seeds, such as quinoa and flax. Each serving, which is larger than most competitors, has 9-10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 28-30 grams of whole grains and 200 mg of ALA Omega-3s.
The new line comes in two flavors: Oats and Honey and Dark Chocolate Cranberry.
Children’s natural cereal holds potential
The company also sees significant potential in the children’s natural cereal segment, which Kenny says is underdeveloped.
He explained that the natural cereal category mostly caters to adults and people who are willing to trade taste for health – something most children won’t do.
But Barbara’s has “always been much more family focused” and wanted to offer children products that are fun, flavorful and that parents could feel good about feeding them.
That is why two years ago the company launched Organic Snackimals Cereal, which is a corn and oat based cereal with fun animal shapes and only 7 grams of sugar per serving compared to 9-12 grams in most competing mainstream children’s cereal, Kenny said.
The line, which comes in Cinnamon Crunch, Vanilla Blast and Chocolate Crisp, also contains prebiotics for digestive health.
Snackimals complements Barbara’s longstanding Puffins Cereal, which also is designed to appeal to children “both from a taste standpoint and the imagery that goes along with it,” Kenny said, referencing the rotund black and white puffin perched on each box.
Looking forward, the company likely will further develop children’s cereal options and will look for more ways to make cereal even more convenient than it already is for busy shoppers who are on the go, Kenny said.