Yes, silly rabbit, the fruit-flavored balls of Trix dancing around in your bowl of milk will look a lot different real soon.
That's because for the first time since Trix was introduced by General Mills (GIS) in 1954, the brightly-colored cereal will be made without artificial colors and flavors starting this month. In their place, General Mills will be using fruit and vegetable juice for flavoring and spice extracts for color, replacing lab-made ingredients such as Red 40 and Yellow 6 that have fallen out of favor among more health-conscious consumers and parents.
Gone entirely will be the blue and green pieces, which the company could not find good natural substitutes for.
Reese's Puffs, a peanut butter-and-chocolate flavored cereal, will also become available in January minus artificial colors and ingredients, using flavors such as natural vanilla to enhance the flavor.
"There is a lot of interest in these artificial ingredients ... as in consumers don't like them," said General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell in an interview. Powell added that "in the case of Trix, we have removed artificial colors and replaced them with naturally-derived colors, so you will see a different look -- but we think that because Trix is naturally-colored, and it has the same great taste, it will be a benefit for us."
By January, General Mills expects 75% of its cereals to be free of artificial flavors and colors, with the total reaching 90% by the end of 2016.
Execs at the company are banking on more natural-looking and tasting cereals to revive mixed sales results in recent months. General Mills' bread-and-butter cereal business saw sales in the U.S. fall 5% year-over-year for the second quarter, which ended Nov. 29. The performance marked a sharp reversal from the 4% gain in the previous quarter.
The new Reese's Puffs, pictured on the right, will be slightly less dark without the use of artificial colors.
General Mills cereal sales are still up 1% year to date, however, and according to the company, sales remain on track to increase during the full fiscal year, which ends in May.