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Can Weetabix-Weight Watchers tie-up help tough out difficult times?

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn , 05-Feb-2014
Last updated the 05-Feb-2014 at 15:23 GMT

Weetabix joins forces with Weight Watchers to launch a high fiber, high protein brand in the UK
Weetabix joins forces with Weight Watchers to launch a high fiber, high protein brand in the UK

Weetabix and Weight Watchers have joined forces to develop a high fiber cereal - a good example of how weight loss firms and breakfast brands can become more resilient in difficult dieting times, say analysts.

The Love Fibre breakfast cereal from Weetabix and dieting firm Weight Watchers hit UK supermarkets Tesco and Waitrose this week. The partnership is Weight Watchers’ first venture into the cereal category and has been earmarked as a wise move in a time when many dieting brands and weight-control cereals are struggling.

Don’t mention the diet

The companies say the product is aimed at health conscious consumers, and will reference the Weight Watchers’ points scoring weight management system whereby dieters are told how many calorie points they can consume each day. Love Fibre will be available in two varieties wheat and rice flakes as well as flakes with raisins, sultanas and apples with a Weight Watchers ProPoints value of three and four per serving respectively.

The companies are flagging the product's fiber and protein content as important selling points. 

Canadean report analyst, Ronan Stafford, told BakeryandSnacks.com that it is currently a difficult time for weight loss brands, referencing Nestlé’s sell off of dieting brand Jenny Craig and Unilever’s interest in off-loading its Slim-Fast brand. “This focus on protein and fiber is a good example of how weight loss brands can become more resilient by changing in tandem with consumers’ evolving health needs,” he said.

Chris Brockman, senior global food and drink analyst for Mintel, echoed this sentiment and said that cereal makers could stand to benefit too. He said that the companies could be pulling off “a good trick” with the use of Weight Watchers’ weight management within the context of a more positive health positioned product based around fiber and protein.

“Sales of diet and weight control breakfast cereals have not done well in recent years - with sales down an estimated 4% 2008-2013. This compares to 30% growth in sales of diet/weight control biscuits which is based on the success of breakfast biscuits such as Belvita and its high fiber and nutrient positioning,” he said.

“So Weetabix will be hoping to reverse the decline in cereals by focusing more on that balanced nutrition approach - but still signposting it strongly to weight conscious individuals.” He added that this ‘balanced nutrition’ approach was currently doing well in the market.

Fiber food

Brockman said that while there has been a slight shift away from the use of the word 'diet', weight management is still a key consumer concern. “More positive indicators such as high fiber and high protein have appeal in this regard,” Brockman said.

According to Canadean data, only 10.4% of breakfast cereals eaten by British consumers are selected to help them meet their health goals. Stafford said that while demand for this type of cereal is limited – with health ranked 6 out of the 20 motivations tracked – the market is still worth £190m ($309.3m) and so worth consideration.

Stafford said: “The interesting aspects of this launch are the focus on fiber and protein, as opposed to focusing exclusively on losing weight. It highlights how consumers have a much more holistic view of their health, and how targeting particular nutritional content, with protein the latest trending need, is as important as boasting about being low fat or low calorie.”

Meanwhile Brockman commented that Mintel’s research showed 'high in fiber' was an important attribute to 38% of breakfast cereals buyers in the UK in 2013, a figure that rose to 48% among over 55 year olds. This was in contrast to low calorie content which was important to just 18% of consumers.

New tie-in

A Weetabix spokesperson said: “As a brand we are renowned for our health credentials and we felt we had something different and unique that we could bring to the diet cereal market.”

Matthew Davis, Weight Watchers head of licensing, said: “We’re very excited to be entering this new category with a superior product that not only offers health conscious consumers a great tasting cereal, but also allows them to carefully manage their portion and points values, which we know is an important factor that our consumers look for.”

The new product is part of Weetabix’s brand innovation programme for 2014 which also saw the launch of the On the Go Breakfast drink.

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