Breakfast cereals tend to oversell nutrition. If your cereal is fortified, chances are you need much more of that balanced breakfast to get what you need to start the day.
On the side of the box, the nutrition information is broken down, traditionally with 1 cup of cereal, and 8 oz. of skim milk. Now the comparisons usually involve ¾ cup to make the calorie count sound lower.
Unless you measure out a cup of cereal, chances are you pour a lot more into your bowl. So you are getting more calories than the serving size on the side panel.
The new Grape-Nuts packaging has a flashy banner at the top: "Now with 8 grams of protein." For all the reasons I had bought Grape-Nuts, I hadn't factored in protein. So I checked the old box to see how much protein it had. Turns out that the "old version" had 6 games of protein. So the difference was just 2 grams of protein per serving.
Then I checked the serving size: ½ cup. So in the 1 cup serving I usually poured, I would be getting 16 grams of protein in the new version, and 12 grams in the old version. Very nice numbers.
12 grams of protein in a 1 cup serving size is a highly impressive number, but this wasn't good enough for Post. Then again, if someone who buys the cereal and is conscious about protein didn't know, how would the average consumer have any idea?
Then again, Post's solution to more protein in a cereal that naturally has a lot of protein is to incorporate "isolated soy protein." As you might expect, some people are very upset about this new ingredient.
Those who are allergic to soy, those who object to GMO soy, those who know that too much soy isn't good for some groups, those who object to significant change to a cereal that was doing well, those who like soy but think isolated soy protein isn't a good way to get protein.
Given there are close to 50 brands of cereal in a typical grocery store, this is a lot of upset people in a relatively small slice of the cereal market bowl, as it were.
The argument from Post is that soy is a plant-based protein and that consumers have been demanding more protein. To be fair, Post has an 800 number that, at least in my case, I got a live person in less than 30 seconds. The woman who answered told me they had been getting positive and negative responses to the changes.
Let's break down those changes:
old ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Salt, Dried Yeast
new ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Isolated Soy Protein, Salt, Whole Grain Barley Flour, Malt Extract, Dried Yeast
The isolated soy protein is in the #3 slot in the new version. Whole grain barley flour and malt extract are the other new ingredients just ahead of dried yeast.
Even with the new sources of carbohydrates, the new version manages to reduce the overall number of carbohydrates from 48 to 44. The generic version lists the same ingredients in the same order as the original version, yet manages to have 7 grams of protein for a ½ cup serving.
|Generic Original Grape-Nuts||48||7||7|
I purchased the new version and the generic version within the week (at separate grocery stores) each for $2.99 for a 24-ounce box. Post will sell you a 15.9 oz. box of "classic" Grape-Nuts for $4.29, not including shipping and handling. You would have to be (grape-)nuts to buy the cereal online.
The vintage/classic version packaging notes that it's "soy-free."
The woman at Post hinted that they would (no guarantees) offer the vintage version in the stores. Assuming a similar price point, Post is taking a cereal beloved by generations with 4 ingredients and holding it over their fans with a smaller package at a much higher price. And the new version, which has 7 ingredients, including one that is highly contested, is cheaper, but not as cheap as the generic version in most instances.
The generic version is in most traditional grocery stores, and the Post version isn't.
You could embrace the new version of Grape-Nuts: easy access, similar price to the brand name Grape-Nuts, and yes, more protein. But you are only getting 1-2 grams of protein more per ½ cup serving.
Post would have been much better off touting the protein of its original formula, and using the 1 cup standard, could have bragged about 12 grams of protein in a breakfast cereal. No alienation, no overselling its merits, and no reducing its potential audience. Now, Post has thrown the ball back in consumers' laps. Buy a slighly more protein cereal with GMO soy or maintain the ingredients status quo, and buy the same cereal, but at the expense of Post's bottom line.
photos credit: Post