Are vegetables set to conquer cereals?

Carrots and broccoli in muesli offer obvious health appeal but is this the start of more savoury cereals? And where else is veg unexpectedly appearing in products?

20 February 2019

The cereal aisle can be plagued with the perception that it’s full of sugary options, but manufacturers are attempting to combat this poor image.

Last month, for the first time in its 113-year history, Kellogg’s released a vegetable cereal: a no-added-sugar raspberry, apple and carrot granola.

Hot on its heels is German producer Kölln, which launched a three-strong range of vegetable cereals this month. The muesli blends are based on the familiar combo of oats and fruits, just with some veg thrown in, according to the company.

The carrot and ginger variety is described as a classic cereal containing 67% whole grains, apple and sultanas. Beetroot and apple consists of 78% whole grains with added sultanas, while broccoli and almond is portrayed as a green trendsetter with 80% whole grains and the addition of pumpkin seeds.

Announcing the range, Kölln noted that vegetables are more than just a side dish. “This is shown by green smoothies, as well as vegetable chips or vegetable preparations as a meat substitute,” added the manufacturer.

As with many cereals, the products are vegan-friendly. They’re also geared towards consumers looking to reduce sugar intake.“Furthermore, they are living up to the trend that cereals are consumed not only for breakfast, but also increasingly as a snack or lunch,” said Kölln.

For now, the new Kölln trio is only available in Germany, where the company will target consumers via an online campaign. The mueslis will be sold in a single 400g box for €3.49 or in an assortment of boxes of 24.

Meat flavours in cereals?

Over in the US, American brand Post is taking savoury cereal in the opposite direction. It is launching two limited-edition SKUs into Walmart in March: chicken and waffle, which comes with tiny chicken drumsticks and waffle-shaped morsels, and maple bacon donuts, which mix donut-shaped cereal with bacon-flavoured bits.

The cereals have 110 calories, 0.5g of fat and 9g of sugar in each three-quarter-cup serving.

The two new flavours join recent over-the-top launches into the American market by other manufacturers, such as General Mills’ cinnamon toast crunch churros cereal and Kellogg’s Caticorn, a box of berry-flavoured loops sprinkled with edible glitter.

This push for innovation in cereal is part of an effort to bring consumers back to the category. In the UK, take-home cereal sales were down 0.9% (£13.9m) overall and volumes were flat, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Perhaps even more surprisingly, cereals under the ‘functional health’ banner lost 4.4% (£9.5m) on volumes down 2.7%.

From the figures, it appears consumers are turning their back on cereals heaped with bran, reformed wheat or mulitgrains. Shredded Wheat suffered the greatest loss of the past year as sales dropped £4.2m (12.3%), while Weetabix lost £3.9m (2.8%).

They weren’t the only businesses to suffer: Alpen dipped £3.2m (10.5%) and All Bran £1.2m (10.3%),according to Nielsen sales figures. A Streetbees poll for The Grocer found that great taste was most important to 79% of 852 consumers when it came to purchasing cereals, compared to 43% for healthy ingredients and 37% for low price.

Mintel’s senior food and drink analyst, Richard Caines, said a lack of excitement and busy lifestyles are barriers to people not eating breakfast cereals more often. “More on-the-go formats should help cereals to stay on the menu among people who don’t have time to eat breakfast at home, while separate toppings are one way of adding more excitement to the eating of cereals and an extra revenue stream for cereal brands,” he recommended.

But back to vegetable cereals, can Sparkie see more cramming into the category?


Sparkie says:

It’s interesting and certainly gives the cereals a healthier perception. I would be curious to get hold of some and see just how healthy they actually are though. I think this is happening as a point of differentiation in a relatively saturated market. It’s going to be weird for a lot of consumers though, as there is a very definite divide between those who prefer a sweet or savoury breakfast. To have the savoury encroaching in the sweet section is a first really, so it should be monitored – if it goes well, there will be a flood of these products within a few months I should imagine.

As for vegetables in other unusual places, I have seen carrot and beetroot showing up in more and more Graze snacks, which usually acts as an indicator of something going on. If this trend does continue, it’ll likely spread to more snacks, bars and other similar health-focussed products first.

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