Timing is ‘absolutely right’ for low-sugar Cheerios, says expert

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Nearly half of UK consumers think flavored cereals contain too much sugar - "sugar is absolutely at the forefront", says Mintel innovation director
Nearly half of UK consumers think flavored cereals contain too much sugar - "sugar is absolutely at the forefront", says Mintel innovation director

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Cheerios has timed its low-sugar launch in the UK well because sugar is top of the agenda for consumers, says Mintel’s innovation head.

Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) - the joint venture between General Mills and Nestlé - has added oats to the formulation and drastically slashed the sugar content in the cereal to 1.4 g per 30 g serving, down from 6.2 g in regular Cheerios.

“That’s a big step, a really big step,”​ said David Jago, director of innovation at Mintel. “They’ve gone way out there – I think it’s bold. It’s probably because they’ve recognized the fact sugar is at the forefront,” ​he told BakeryandSnacks.com.

Mintel research from 2014 showed 47% of UK consumers thought flavored cereal brands, like Cheerios, were too high in sugar.

“The timing is absolutely right – sugar is absolutely at the forefront and Cheerios is the right brand to do it with. It’s typically a family-orientated, fairly basic brand and so from that point of view it’s a good move provided the price point is okay.” 

Last month, Action on Sugar published a report that showed sugar content had risen in one-fifth of UK breakfast cereals since 2012​. 

The proof is in the pudding

Jago said the product would likely do well, gaining traction among parents in particular, thanks to the addition of oats.


“Kids aren’t going to be interested in the oats part, or sugar part, but the parents will be keen…Mum and Dad buyers are ready for a product like this, but whether they can get the kids to eat it is another question.”

It could become more of an adult product, he said, but either way taste would be critical considering it was such a “drastic”​ cut in sugar. 

What’s the difference to regular Cheerios?


The low-sugar oat variety is made with 98% whole grain oat flour and some wheat starch versus regular Cheerios which contain a range of whole grain flours -  24.9% oat; 24.9% wheat; 17.1% barley; 7.4% rice; and 3.5% maize

The sugar content per 30 g serving is 1.4 g versus 6.2 g in regular Cheerios which contains sugar as well as partially inverted brown sugar syrup salt

Ingredients list for low-sugar oat Cheerios: Whole Grain Oat Flour (98%), Wheat Starch, Sugar, Salt, Aciditiy Regulator: Tripotassium Phosphate, Antioxidant: Tocopherols

Ingredients list for regular Cheerios: Whole Grain Oat Flour (24.9%), Whole Grain Wheat (24.9%), Whole Grain Barley Flour (17.1%), Whole Grain Rice Flour (7.4%), Whole Grain Maize Flour (3.5%), Sugar, Wheat Starch, Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Sunflower Oil, Colours: Caramel, Annatto and Carotene, Antioxidant: Tocopherols, Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid, Vitamin D, Calcium Carbonate, Iron

Market-shake up?

Asked if the move from CPW would spark other brands to follow suit, he said: “I suspect others will wait and see… I think it’s a smart move, but you’ve got to bear in mind that there are very few others that have done it – very few in the mainstream aisle have stepped out with a low-sugar version.”

However, he said there wasn’t another large cereal brand on the market that would suit such a hefty sugar reduction.

“I can’t see another really obvious brand from Kellogg, for example, that you could do it with. What I mean is, Cheerios really does come across as a family consumption brand – adults, kids of all age ranges eat it, people snack on it, eat it for breakfast – it’s very broad in that respect. If you look for other brands you could do it with, you’re looking at some fairly basic cereal products and I don’t think there’s necessarily the need for that.”

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Low Sugar Cheerios - no enrichment?

Posted by Cynthia Valet,

According to the ingredient statement listed in this article the low sugar Cheerios are not fortified with Vitamins... so will the cost of this cereal be less than what we traditionally pay for regular Cheerios?

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Posted by John Efstathiou,

Please let me know what is the weight and dollar share of the product now compared to before the sugar reduction.

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