It's all about real fruit in the next addition to the Cheerios family.
Next month, General Mills (GIS) - Get Report will launch "Very Berry" Cheerios, a cereal that will use powders from strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and raspberries for its flavor. It will be absent artificial colors and flavors, and also gluten-free.
According to the box, which TheStreet looked over ahead of the launch, the cereal's color is derived from fruit juice coloring. In a taste test, one could easily tell this was a cereal free of lab-concocted colors and flavors. The Cheerios lacked the bright colors and somewhat harsh after-taste inherent to many artificially fruit-flavored cereals.
Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't remember whether Cheerios ever did berry-flavored cereal before.
The company introduced three different versions of "Berry Burst" Cheerios back in 2003: strawberry, triple berry and banana. All three were eventually phased out. Last spring, the company introduced gluten-free strawberry Cheerios for a limited time. It performed "very well," said a company spokeswoman.
Ingredients in General Mills' new "Very Berry" Cheerios
The latest Cheerios flavor follows more than a year of General Mils overhauling its most beloved cereal brands to make them more appealing to increasingly health-aware shoppers. Last year, five iterations of Cheerios -- Apple Cinnamon, Multigrain, Frosted, Honey Nut and original -- went gluten-free. In January, Trix hit the markets minus artificial colors and flavors. The company said more than 90% of its cereals can now claim they are free of artificial flavors and colors.
Although consumers have embraced General Mills' renovated cereals with a healthy angle, tepid demand for more sugary offerings continued to weigh on the category's overall results. Cereal sales fell 3% in the second fiscal quarter ended Nov. 27, slightly better than a 4% decline in the first quarter. Sales of General Mills' cereal dropped 1% to $2.3 billion in the fiscal year ended May 29, 2016.
More broadly, cereal industry sales continue to be plagued by people cutting back on sugar and navigating toward eating snack bars for breakfast. U.S. retail sales of ready-to-eat cereal fell 1.1% to $8.7 billion for the 52-weeks ended Nov. 26, according to Nielsen data.