Natural Foods Merchandiser

Granola category revived by flavor innovation

Granola, a longtime staple of healthy breakfasts and snacking, is a crowded natural category, but flavor innovation is making this natural standby stand out.

Consumer demand for convenient foods that deliver nutrition from whole, unrefined ingredients has turned a longtime natural standby into an unexpected star. Granola—that classic blend of oats, nuts and dried fruit—has found a place in an increasing number of shoppers’ hearts and grocery carts. Last year, sales of the beloved snack and cereal leapt 11 percent in the natural channel to $16 million, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS.

Granola combines all the necessary attributes to streamline healthy living: It can be stored just about anywhere, it’s versatile enough to fall into both the breakfast and snack categories, and it keeps shoppers fueled by combining simple and complex carbohydrates with healthy fats. Plus, there’s a tasty combination to suit nearly every palate.

Stiff competition in the crowded category makes flavor innovation the key to a brand’s success. From tropically inspired blends with dried mangos and macadamias to simple combinations of oats and a touch of maple syrup, today’s granola options appeal to more than just hippies and hikers. Nutrient-dense ingredients such as almonds, coconut and quinoa are increasingly playing a starring role, delivering fiber, protein and great flavor.

See our recommendations for 5 healthy granolas to stock


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