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Crunch Time: Ex-United Biscuits product developer brings granola snacks to UK market

By Vince Bamford

- Last updated on GMT

Starup Cereal Lovers introduces CrunchTime Nuggets range in three flavors
Starup Cereal Lovers introduces CrunchTime Nuggets range in three flavors

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A former product developer for businesses including Heinz, Nestlé and United Biscuits has created a range of snacking granola pouches.

Officially launching at the Natural & Organic Products Europe show in London in April, the oat-based CrunchTime Nuggets are available in three flavors and sold in a 60 g resealable  pouch with a recommended retail price of £1.35 ($1.93).

They are the brainchild of Jenny Fox-Johnson, who believes Nuggets can create a new product category and offer an alternative, healthier snack with natural ingredients. They contain no added salt, are high in fiber and low in saturated fat.

Dry snacking product

Although Nuggets are suitable for eating as a dry snacking product, the pouch doubles as an on-the-go bowl, said Fox-Johnson, with the granola designed to stay crunchy in milk for at least four minutes.

Nuggets are being launched under the self-funded Cereal Lovers granola cereals business created by Fox-Johnson and her husband Craig, a biochemist who handles technical issues relating to the products.

Cereal Lovers granola comprises two ranges – Simply Fruit Granola and Crunch Granola – that were designed in the development kitchen of the couple’s country hotel in Dorset. The business uses the hotel’s guests as ‘focus groups’ during product development.

I kept on making guests eat my cereals and not allowing other cereals in the place​,” Fox-Johnson told BakeryAndSnacks. “So we have had plenty of feedback!​”

Business partner

One guest, Olivier Award-winning theatre impresario James Tod, who has produced West End and Broadway shows, became a partner in the business after tasting the granola while staying at the hotel.

Dorset BB
Cereal Lovers products are developed at the founders' hotel in Dorset on the UK's south coast

Cereal Lovers has since become aware consumers were eating its breakfast granolas as a snack and, after encouragement from a major supermarket chain, developed the pouched Nuggets format.

Initial reaction to the packs has been very good​,” said Fox-Johnson, adding she was discussing listings for the new products with national retailers and other potential stockists.

Production method

Fox-Johnson said that, unlike some granolas that use ‘an excess’ of sucrose to bind ingredients together and add raw ingredients after baking the oats, all ingredients in CrunchTime Nuggets are baked together. This results in easier digestion; fuller, more complex flavors; and less sugar, she claimed.

 “You simply cannot create Nuggets with a traditional approach​,” she added. “Our production method is unique​.”

All product development work is carried out by Fox-Johnson in the hotel’s two commercial kitchens, and the products are manufacture by a third party.

At the end of the day, we don’t want to be running a factory or managing people​,” said Fox-Johnson, adding that operating in this way gave the business the freedom to go to different manufacturers for different products.

Cereal Lovers is planning to extend into cereal bars by the end of this year, and will use a new manufacturer for that range.

Cereal Lovers range

CrunchTime Nuggets will be sold in a 60 g resealable pouch in three flavors:

• Chocolate: Belgian chocolate baked into oats with honey

• Forest: A ‘rich, malty, toasted treat’ with a ‘rugged, seedy texture’

• Sunshine: Cinnamon and nutmeg, baked with oats, rice and the sweetness of orange juice and honey

Three Crunch Granolas are sold in the same flavors as the CrunchTime Nuggets, with a recommended retail price of £3.95 ($5.64) for 400g.

Simply Fruit Granolas are sold in three flavors – Blackcurrant & Apple; Banana & Chocolate; and Apple, with a recommended retail price of £3.95 ($5.64) for 400g.

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