MINNEAPOLIS — A recent innovation from General Mills, Inc. is Nature Valley Granola Cups, an indulgent snack combining creamy nut butter with crunchy whole grain oats and nuts. Available in peanut butter chocolate and almond butter varieties, the product was developed based on consumer interest in multiple textures in snacks, said Roy Bechtold, a senior scientist at General Mills.
“Dual or multiple textures are very important to people,” Mr. Bechtold said. “They want some creaminess, they want crunchiness or they want crispiness and chewiness — things like that. They want to experience something different, so multi-texture was a very important part of the inception.”
A member of General Mills’ research and development team for 22 years, Mr. Bechtold is involved in the entire creative process, from ideation to innovation. The development of Nature Valley Granola Cups took a year and a half, according to the company’s corporate blog.
“Once we start prototyping, we just get on the bench like you’re in your kitchen and we start making things, and we made cups out of nuts and we made cups out of granola base and we did a combination of both,” Mr. Bechtold said. “And we found out that consumers are really liking the wholesomeness of a granola, a well-known ingredient, but they love the crunch of a cookie, and they love the taste of a cookie… This seemed to start to fit the bill where we could have multi-textures, we have sweet and indulgent, we have better-for-you ingredients, (and) we have on-trend ingredients.”
Nature Valley offers a range of chewy and crunchy nutrition bars, breakfast biscuits and biscuit sandwiches, soft-baked oatmeal squares, granolas and cereal, featuring wholesome ingredients including nuts, seeds, oats and honey. The granola cups represent a new snacking occasion and fill a void in the marketplace, Mr. Bechtold said.“It’s fun to watch people in taste tests take a bite of the granola cups and see their eyes light up,” he said. “Watching consumers during a test, and hearing them say, ‘I love this, where can I get it?’, that’s really fun. I think this really is a food that people will love.”