But Yorkshire-based brand Rainforest Foods is pushing the concept further with two new cereals that use ingredients such as navy, white and garbanzo beans alongside wholegrain rice. Launched into 450 Sainsbury’s stores, the Bambeanies brand aims to give children in particular a less sugary start to the day. There are two varieties available: Super Crispies and Super Cacao Crispies, both £3.50 per box.
The company was set up 10 years ago and has a history in organic ‘superfoods,’ with Stewart McGuckin, head of retail at the company, joining two years ago to develop its consumer branded offering.
“It was just about how we can take what was relatively niche ingredient products and make them more accessible; how we could use our expertise in nutrient-dense ingredients to create healthier meal solutions for consumers,” he tells Food Spark, adding he took up the role around that time that Jamie Oliver was campaigning outside of Parliament about sugar and the obesity epidemic.
“There were a few facts that came out about how children were consuming half their daily intake of sugar before they left for school in the morning. So that got us thinking about creating a healthier breakfast for UK families. Then we looked into what we could do to create an accessible, healthier breakfast – accessible being allergen-free and using only natural ingredients and ultimately lower sugar.”
Challenging established competitors
Some of the lower-sugar ingredients that feature in Bambeanies cereal include coconut flour, blossom nectar and baobab.
Compared with Coco Pops, Bambeanies’ Super Cacao Crispies contains 2.2g less sugar, 200% more fibre, 122% more protein and 95% less salt per serving, according to the brand.
Similarly, a bowl of Bambeanies Super Crispies provides 2g of sugar per serving versus 2.4g in a bowl of Rice Krispies, as well as 285% more fibre, 85% more protein and 98% less salt.
McGuckin says the aim was to go beyond the normal cereal-based raw materials, but also find ingredients that were nutrient dense.
“We looked around the world and looked at various ingredients and ended up with beans to deliver the texture and the appearance that the consumers were looking for, because many generations have had the Kellogg’s and Nestle cereals of the world,” he comments.
“We had to find ingredients which people would understand but at the same time find a balance that wouldn’t put the mainstream shopper off... It’s not a revolutionary change because I think the majority of consumers would be resistant to that, but a big enough change which ultimately has a material impact on the nutrition that people consume at breakfast.”
The beans also offer a higher source of fibre and protein, as well as being a starchy carbohydrate to allow for a slower release of energy to keep consumers fuller for longer, while the baobab is high in vitamin C, he adds.
While finding a manufacturer that could provide an allergen-free environment proved difficult, taste was also a big challenge during development, says McGuckin.
“We didn’t just want to create a bland product that was purely healthy, which ultimately people and our target consumers didn’t enjoy it... So the biggest challenge was how do you take savoury ingredients and create an enjoyable product? I’m a parent and we’ve been brought up and brought our children up to want sweet things, so the biggest challenge was creating a product that ultimately tasted nice but wasn’t laden with sugar,” he explains. “We added a bit of rice, which is naturally sweeter, and some coconut blossom nectar to add a bit of sweetness.”
McGuckin is adamant that more innovation is needed in the cereal aisle to give people a healthier start to the day.
“We are a bit of a victim of the last several decades of UK consumer food routines and repertoires,” he comments. “We have developed a very sweet tooth... [and] there is too much sugar in the category and in the products manufactured. Manufacturers need to find innovative ways to deliver solutions and products for consumers that taste great, but ultimately don’t provide empty nutrition.”
That’s the aim of Rainforest Foods, which wants to get stuck into more NPD that transforms the nation’s favourite products. In the pipeline and set for launch next year is more in the breakfast occasion that will target on-the-go, while there are also plans for desserts and snacking, says McGuckin.
He thinks Rainforest Foods will be ahead of the crowd as the pressure weighs on industry.
“Ultimately, either through legislation or increased lobbying, manufacturers will have to go further, consumers will demand they go further – that’s what I expect to see over next two to three years – to continue work to reduce sugar as a priority,” he says.
Sustainability and social responsibility
Bambeanies’ cereal also delivers on key trends like ethics.
The baobab is sourced from EcoProducts in South Africa, an outfit that employs over 1,000 women from local communities, who all make an income from harvesting the baobab fruits. EcoProducts’ founder Dr Sarah Venter established the Baobab Foundation, which also provides education for the children of baobab harvesters and supports the conservation of baobab trees in Southern Africa.
For every pack sold, Rainforest Foods will fund the protection of four square metres of rainforest too, which will help to protect endangered habitats, wildlife and indigenous people, adds McGuckin.