Gives Some Of Its Cereals A Makeover
June 12, 2008
NEW YORK -(Dow
Jones)- Kellogg Co. (K) has given household names like
Froot Loops, Rice Krispies and Apple Jacks a makeover.
The packaged-food company has modified decades-old
recipes for many of its best-known cereals in a bid to
make them healthier. The Battle Creek, Mich., company
began to roll out the first lot of newly formulated
cereals to retailers last week, and consumers in the
U.S. will begin to see them on grocery store shelves
over the next month.
In modifying its products, Kellogg joins a raft of other
food companies in the U.S. that are pushing to make
their products healthier or are changing the way they
market to children. Changing the makeup of household
favorites that are produced in mass quantities can be a
massive undertaking, but Kellogg's efforts highlight
just how far companies are willing to go to shore up
their sales as consumers demand healthier foods.
"We have a lot of time and effort invested in this,"
said Kellogg Chief Executive David Mackay. In the long
term, he says, the company believes the investment will
have "a substantial payback."
Kellogg won't say how much the entire process will cost.
The company had 2007 sales of about $12 billion, and
cereal accounts for roughly half of its sales globally.
Kellogg cereals such as Froot Loops, Corn Pops, Cocoa
Krispies and Apple Jacks in the U.S. have now been
reformulated to bring the level of sugar per serving to
12 grams or less. The sodium level has been cut in Rice
Krispies. Kellogg says some products will now have lower
calorie counts. In some cases, grains and flavors have
been added to the reformulated cereals to keep them
tasting the same.
Kellogg's changes come about a year after the company
announced that it had set itself new nutritional
standards for products that it markets to children. At
that time, the company said it would try to make many of
its products healthier to meet those standards. But
Kellogg also said that in cases where its researchers
weren't able to match a product's existing taste, it
would leave the recipes alone and simply stop marketing
such products to children under 12.
Giving products and marketing a healthy twist isn't new.
Kellogg competitor General Mills Inc. (GIS) in 2005
reformulated all its "Big G" cereals to contain at least
8 grams to 16 grams of whole grains per serving. General
Mills says its Big G children's cereals are at or below
12 grams of sugar per serving and it has reduced the
sodium in some varieties of Hamburger Helper.
The food and beverage industry has been particularly
under fire for marketing sugary and high-calorie foods
to youngsters. Several food companies - including Kraft
Foods Inc. (KFT), the largest U.S. food maker by revenue
- have put controls on how they advertise to children.
Kellogg is expected to report on the progress it has
made on products marketed to children later Thursday.
The company expects that by the end of 2008, about 70%
of its products marketed to children will meet the
nutritional criteria it has set, up from 50% in
To be sure, companies run the risk of pushing away loyal
consumers when they tinker with tried-and-true formulas.
But Kellogg says that its labs have managed to keep the
reformulated cereal tasting just as good.
"We've conducted consumer research," says Mackay of the
new products. "They taste great."
Kellogg often sells different versions of its products
in various markets around the world. The company said
products currently marketed to children under 12 will be
reformulated appropriately in each of those markets.
There was one major product that Kellogg researchers
weren't able to change without affecting the taste: Pop
Tarts. The company says it has decided to leave the
recipe untouched and will no longer be marketing them to
children under 12 starting next year.
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