How Attune Foods stays afloat in the cereal category

by Monica Watrous
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Attune cereal
Attune Foods has introduced ingredients such as sorghum and has added granola and muesli varieties to its portfolio.

EUGENE, ORE. — “Aggressive innovation” has helped Attune Foods, L.L.C. maintain growth amid weakness in the ready-to-eat cereal category, said Rob Goluba, director of marketing. The Eugene-based maker of Uncle Sam, Erewhon and Peace brands has introduced ingredients such as purple corn and sorghum and has added granola and muesli varieties to its portfolio to address changing consumer preferences.

"We are actively trying to stay ahead of the trends by expanding our offerings for all brands under the Attune Foods umbrella,” Mr. Goluba said. “Erewhon Organic’s product line has expanded this past year to include the brand’s first granola varieties and superfood ingredients, such as our Harvest Medley variety that delivers a hearty mix of sorghum, brown rice and quinoa.

“Meanwhile, Peace Cereal has also diversified its offerings in 2016 with additions of five new granolas, U.S.D.A.-certified organic Purple Corn Flakes and new quick and clear beveled edge cartons that make it easier for consumers to spot the benefits found in our products.”

Founded in 2006, Attune Foods became a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Post Holdings, Inc. in 2013. Post is the third largest cereal company in the United States, with brands including Pebbles, Honey Bunches of Oats and Post Raisin Bran.

Attune cereal
Attune Foods produces Uncle Sam, Erewhon and Peace brands.

“We are well aware of the decline in the total cereal category, but as a manufacturer of premium organic, non-G.M.O. and gluten-free cereals and granolas for our brands and private brands, we are fortunate not to have experienced the impact of the declines over the years,” Mr. Goluba said. “We have seen select items that may have had too much sugar or were not priced competitively underperform the rest of our portfolio, but our aggressive innovation has helped us maintain growth in a declining category.”

He added, “Today’s consumers seek products that allow them to eat with confidence with quality ingredients that they can trust, without sacrificing on taste…. By diversifying our offerings with granolas and trending, interesting ingredients, we are appealing to consumer’s desire for better-for-you ingredients, great taste and added health benefits.”

Purple corn, for example, is associated with disease-fighting anthocyanins and already has gained consumer acceptance as an ingredient in snacks and bread, Mr. Goluba said.

Attune cereal purple corn flakes
Attune's Peace Cereal Purple Corn Flakes contain only 5 grams of sugar.

“We just made sure our Peace Cereal Purple Corn Flakes tasted great with only 5 grams of sugar and noted that the milk wouldn’t turn purple on the front of the carton because the purple color is not an artificial color or dye,” he added. “That was the No. 1 question we are asked about our purple corn.”

In addition to innovating with trending ingredients, Attune Foods expanded its granola offerings in the past year, with the addition of such varieties as Erewhon Cranberry Chia granola and Peace Maple Pecan granola.

“Granola has been a bright spot in the category due to its versatility,” Mr. Goluba said. “It is a favorite in a bowl for breakfast, but it’s also loved as a topping for yogurts and ice cream, a mix-in with trail mixes as well as a snack. Overall, granola is better suited for the growing number of consumers eating on-the-go at all times of the day.”

Attune granola
Attune recently introduced Erewhon Cranberry Chia granola and Peace Maple Pecan granola.

Attune Foods is planning to launch a number of new products in the coming months, he added.

“We will be expanding our free-from, sorghum products and launching our first line of ‘latte’ granolas with real coffee this spring,” Mr. Goluba said. “The rest of the items in our pipeline are focused on delivering granolas and cereals with functional benefits, portability and great taste with less added sugar.”
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