The research conducted by US-based consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports (CR) tested 26 different fiber-rich cereals for taste, nutritional value and price.
The blind testing showed that in the case of cereal types shredded wheat and raisin bran, there was very little difference in nutrition or taste. Consumer Reports said that because of this consumers should feel free to make their choices based on price.
"Walmart's Great Value Raisin Bran and Target's Market Pantry Frosted Shredded Wheat were CR Best Buys and topped the ratings for taste (although scores were close). They were good (not very good) in nutritional quality,” explained Ellen Klosz of Consumer Reports (CR).
“Of the products we tested, it is hard to find those that are top in taste, nutrition and price. However, the top four cereals based on taste and nutrition are: Post Grape-Nuts Original, Kellogg's All-Bran Original, Post Shredded Wheat Original Spoon size and Post Shredded Wheat Wheat 'n Bran Spoon Size. The first two were among the lowest priced for their category (other high fiber cereals),” Klosz told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Cereals with more complex ingredient formulations, such as Granola, saw a greater difference. The tests found that "the only cereal that was excellent for taste was Bear Naked Fruit and Nut granola. But its overall nutrition was fair, and it has just two grams of fiber per quarter-cup serving."
CR warned against large servings of cereals such as Bear Naked Fruit and Nut granola since a whole cup of said types contain "560 calories, more than a fourth of the number most people should have in a day."
Overall CR found that high-fiber cereals have come a long way since its study 14 years ago, when it found that most fiber-rich cereals “tasted more like straw than grain.”
Brand loyalty remains strong
These findings come in light of market research that indicates consumers continue to choose branded cereals more. Global cereal sales in 2012 showed that 84.9% were branded, according to Euromonitor International. In the US this figure stood at 84.2%, while in Western Europe it was 68.4% and Eastern Europe 69.8%.
Klosz said that this was because of brand loyalty and because many people “don't know that some of these cereals can be just as good as their name brand which is what CR found out when we conducted our tests.”
Increasing private label competition
There has been increasing competition in recent years between name brand and own brand cereals.
Some have suggested that own brands have attempted to copy established brands like Kellogg’s by offering products with similar packaging and formulation.
“We don’t make cereal for anyone else so Special K has always had a unique, premium quality but many own brands have attempted to copy both the look, taste and packaging within IP limits,” Louise Thompson-Davies, brand communications manager at Kellogg UK previously told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Steve Osborn, business innovation manager at Leatherhead Food Research, said that from the perspective of big brands like Kellogg: “The retailers have always got those funds and the contract manufacturing network. It is a serious threat not only on price, but quality- the retailer brands are becoming trusted.”