General Mills (NYSE:GIS) has launched its first new cereal brand since 2001, a fruity offering called “Tiny Toast.” Unveiled on Monday, Tiny Toast features pieces of crunchy “toast” made from whole grain oats and corn cereal covered with powdered real fruit. It comes in two flavors, strawberry and blueberry. After being in development for more than a year, the new cereal is scheduled arrive on store shelves this month.
Tiny Toast is General Mills attempt at making real tasteful fruit cereals. Most fruity cereals do not smell or taste like real fruit. In a press release, Mike Evenson, product developer in General Mills’ Innovation, Technology and Quality division, said, “We heard from several consumers that the Blueberry Tiny Toast tastes like a blueberry muffin, which is just awesome praise. That’s exactly what we were going for. When we heard that, we knew we were on to something good.”
General Mills is positioning Tiny Toast as a family cereal like two of the company’s most popular offerings, Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. With real fruit and no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors or colors, General Mills says that Tiny Toast is targeted at young, health-conscious consumers. However, both flavors of Tiny Toast contain 9 grams of sugar per serving which is the same amount as Reese’s Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, and Cookie Crisp.
The launch of Tiny Toast comes at a tumultuous time for the cereal industry, which is being buffeted by growing competition at breakfast from other foods. Americans are increasingly turning to breakfast bars, yogurt, or new fast food alternatives. According to market researcher Nielson, cereal sales fell by 9 percent between 2011 and 2015. The cereal business is currently dominated by General Mills and Kellogg, which each have a 30 percent market share.
To reach the target audience, General Mills has launched a social media presence for Tiny Toast on Tumblr, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. The company plans some short TV spots this summer but is focusing such digital venues. The company may be facing an uphill battle. According to a 2015 survey by Mintel, nearly 40 percent of Millennials said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.