Frustration in the Cereal Aisle   3 comments

One thing to know about being an organic/”natural” foods consumer, is that there is no room for brand loyalty, and you can never sit on your laurels. The problem is the fact that as the small organic/”natural” companies become popular within the niche market they become attractive to big conventional companies. The LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) market segment is one of the fastest growing in our economy (or at least it was, I don’t regularly keep track of market analyses), and of course established companies looking to increase their profits want to get in on fast growing markets. One way to do that is to buy up the popular brands in the market segment. Cascadian Farms, Toms of Maine, Ben and Jerry’s, Burt’s Bees, Barbaras, Santa Cruz Organic, Stoneyfield Farm, and Annie’s are examples of companies that have been bought by other entities. The way I see it, this is not always a bad thing. Colgate-Palmolive didn’t buy Toms of Maine because it was an unsuccessful company in a rinky-dink market but because it is a successful company in a growing market. It is a great way to expand the brand, and increase consumer exposure. The problem is if the company doing the acquiring also changes the mission or products of the small company, which is rarely if ever for the better. Consumers who buy a product because it contains no synthetic additives, or is organic, or whatever, may not even know at first when things change because they trust the brand. Hence why there is no room for brand loyalty in this market. The loyalty needs to be to the values that caused you to pick up that brand’s original product in the first place.

I’m on this rant because I’ve had it with the cereal aisle at Whole Foods. This may be the tipping point for me to start writing letters to companies rather than just not buying their products (or shopping at their stores) and being done with it.

The problem is sugar. I’ve been fairly successful over time at reducing my sweet tooth, and  a couple of years ago cereal became a problem because it was just too sweet. I was starting to be disgusted by cereal even as it was one of my favorite breakfasts. I decided to take a year off and not eat any cold cereal for a while. This year I was looking forward to having cold cereal breakfasts again when the weather warmed up because I really do love them. Unfortunately I’m not actually enjoying shopping for my breakfast cereal because I can no longer find my unsweetened cereals. They are all sweetened or flavored and disgusting.

Back in January on Marion Nestle’s Food Politics blog I learned that Cascadian Farms had changed the recipe on their Organic Purely O’s to include sweeteners and other additives. At the time I just thought that it was an example of a brand being corrupted and just decided not to buy any more Cascadian Farms products (Cascadian Farms is currently owned by General Mills). But now that I’m actually shopping the cereal aisle again I am shocked by the changes. Barbaras has introduced some stupid flavored cereal, Annie’s Bunny Love (their version of O’s) is also sweetened, Kashi only has sweetened and/or flavored cereals, and I’ve realized that almost every single flake in the aisle is coated in sugar. The topper was yesterday when I wanted to buy Arrowhead Mills’ Shredded Wheat cereal and thankfully noticed that the picture on the box showed frosting. WHOLE FOODS ONLY HAD THE SWEETENED SHREDDED WHEATS!

I don’t want to just give up on cold cereal, but I can’t handle all that sugar in the morning. I find it disgusting. I need to take the time to do a detailed survey of the cereal aisle at Whole Foods to find all of my options there.  Am I going to have to start shopping for cereal at the regular grocery store (as opposed to Whole Foods) to get unsweetened cereals? That would be a wierd turn of events. (We already did that for milk when Whole Foods started selling the Organic Valley milk only as their 365 brand and we protested by buying our milk at Raley’s where it is still the real label.) I do think it is time to start writing complaint letters. I just hope it is not too late.

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Posted May 24, 2010 by mayakey in advocacy, conscious living, food, shopping

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3 responses to “Frustration in the Cereal Aisle

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  1. I am having Barbara’s Shredded Wheat this morning. It does not have any sugar in it.

  2. Cheerios my friend. Good enough to be the staple of babies everywhere. Also try Earth’s Best. I don’t know if they are sweetened, but I find I’m *fairly* happy with their products.

  3. Thats the best thing you can do..You have to seek some products that are unsweetened but still good..You to see it for yourself..

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