The shelf-stable cereal (SRP $3.99) incorporates the well-documented probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 from DuPont, which is linked to immune and digestive health benefits demonstrated in multiple human clinical trials.
Kellogg director of marketing for Special K, Christie Crouch said the cereal was designed to “make it easy for women to be proactive about their health and start their day with a choice they can feel good about.”
She added: “We know digestive wellness is top of mind for many women, and it can be tough to sort through all the options out there...We’re delivering the good bacteria, along with iron and vitamins, to women who are looking to fuel their day.”
The cereal features peach-flavored flakes, blueberries, raspberries, peaches and yogurty pieces (which contain the probiotics), with 12g of whole grains per serving.
Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, which is typically available as a freeze-dried powder or frozen pellet, is suitable for direct inclusion in a wide range of food products.
While live micro-organisms can be challenged by heat, air and moisture in certain applications, Megan De Stefano, global probiotics marketing leader at DuPont Nutrition & Health said the company had worked with Kellogg to ensure the strain remained viable throughout the product's 12-month shelf life.
"Our R&D team has very strong expertise in application development and has worked with Kellogg’s on an application that ensures stability until end of shelf-life."
Kellogg CEO: You'll see a step-change in innovation next year
But will the launch help to revitalize Kellogg's struggling US cereals business?
Since launching its new #OwnIt campaign earlier this year, Kellogg has seen "positive movement of the business," said a spokeswoman.
"In particular, this includes great results with key products like Special K Red Berries, which has seen high single digit sales growth..."
She added: "We’ve had some headwinds with our distribution, particularly as it relates to significant shifts in retailer shelf strategies that impacted the category as a whole, and this makes it difficult to uncover the whole story without digging a bit deeper into the numbers. That’s why we’ve looked to the performance of key products as indicators of larger trends, and based on what we’re seeing we believe Special K is gaining momentum."
Speaking during Kellogg's Q3 earnings call in October, then-CEO John Bryant acknowledged that 2017 had been a disappointing year for the US cereals business: "We haven't brought enough excitement to the category this year, but... we're implementing a much stronger 2018 plan."
He added: "We have new media that will emphasize the health and wellness credentials of Mini-Wheats and Raisin Bran, two brands that simply didn't have strong enough brand-building this year. We also launched the next phase of the Special K Own It campaign, emphasizing the brand's inner strength credentials and positioning. And we've got great ideas for our kid-oriented brands, emphasizing out of breakfast snacking, for example.
"Secondly, you will see a step change in innovation next year. We'll renovate and innovate against our core, with news on Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops as well as more fruit-filled Raisin Bran and Special K that moves into probiotics...
"We'll also try some new things that are new to the category. These will lean into health and wellness and into convenience. And you will hear more about them in the months to come. Third, we'll drive bigger in-store excitement... Imagine, for example, promotions and displays featuring Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats together. We can now do that seamlessly for the first time."
Gut health in the cereal category
SVP Paul Norman added: "We do need to still bring transformational innovation to cereal, and to the breakfast occasion, which means investing more... in new alternatives in the area of digestive health and/or convenience. And we're working hard on that.
"I believe gut health and science is coming back to nutrition in the cereal category. We're well placed as a category to actually find tailwinds in nutrition in the months and years to come."
For more information on the new launch, click HERE.