General Mills develops ancient grains Cheerios

By Kacey CULLINEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

General Mills: 'All of our research shows that consumers are eating more ancient grains and there is not a brand better positioned to launch this product than Cheerios'
General Mills: 'All of our research shows that consumers are eating more ancient grains and there is not a brand better positioned to launch this product than Cheerios'

Related tags: Ancient grains, Cereal

General Mills will launch ancient grains Cheerios to take the fast-growing trend into mainstream cereal, its marketing manager for cereal innovation says.

The Cheerios + Ancient Grains product took around a year to develop and will launch nationwide across the US in January, 2015. The cereal contains oat and quinoa clusters and two wheat grains – Kamut Khorosan and spelt.

Alan Cunningham, marketing manager for innovation in General Mills’ cereal division, said the product took a previously niche cereal trend into the mainstream aisle.

“While ancient grains are primarily in natural and organic cereals, Cheerios will be the first large cereal brand to bring it mainstream,”​ he told BakeryandSnacks.com.

While it may be the first cold ready-to-eat cereal from a large brand to contain a blend of ancient grains, other cereal majors have products containing ancient grains. Kellogg, for example, launched Special K Nourish hot cereal​ in June last year with quinoa among other grains and Post Foods’ Great Grains brand contains wheat, barley and millet flour.

Asked if ancient grains had a place in the mainstream cereal aisle, Cunningham said: “Absolutely. All of our research shows that consumers are eating more ancient grains and there is not a brand better positioned to launch this product than Cheerios.”

General Mills has invested heavily in its best-selling flagship brand over the past year, chasing several trends in the food space.

In June this year it launched Cheerios Protein​ made from soy in two varieties – a move it said made a high-quality protein available for the entire family – and in January it removed GMO ingredients from its original brand​ to play into what it described as a growing consumer preference for non-GMO food.

Less fiber, more sugar

Cunningham said use of ancient grains across the food sector had increased by 50% over the prior year.

However, the Cheerios + Ancient Grains product contains less fiber per serving than its flagship counterpart (2 gram per 28 g serving rather than 3 g in regular Cheerios) and more sugar (5 g per serving instead of 1 g).

Asked if such a nutritional difference would concern consumers, Cunningham said the cereal would be accepted because it met taste needs.

“Our new product was created to provide consumers with a great tasting cereal that contains ancient grains. We are confident that the nutrition panel will be accepted by consumers. Cheerios + Ancient Grains contains 17 g of wholegrain, 12 vitamins and minerals and only 5 g of sugar per serving,”​ he said.

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