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Food & Drink

Cheerios and Milk Join the Protein Popularity Contest

Cheerios Protein

The milk-and-cereal branch of the breakfast business wants to capitalize on growing interest in protein.

The dairy industry moved first, dropping the old “Got Milk” slogan for a new campaign focusing on protein and energy. And it seemed to work, helping reverse declines in sales. Now General Mills (GIS) is launching a new cereal called Cheerios Protein, which promises that each serving contains “11g of protein with milk,” according to nutritional labels on the box. The dry cereal alone has 7 grams of protein per serving, more than double regular Cheerios.

“Consumers are looking for more protein options,” says General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas, ”and we are offering an easy breakfast solution that provides long-lasting energy while also curbing hunger and making them feel full.”

Since cold cereal remains a common breakfast food, market researchers at NPD see this as an area where “consumers may be receptive to line extensions that fortify their cereal with more protein or even provide toppings that offer the added protein.” Surveys this year by NPD found that a little more than half of adults are trying to add more protein to their diets and are receptive to protein-oriented pitches about its advantages for weight loss and taste.

Yet most American adults already eat enough protein, which comes in meats, legumes, tofu, eggs, nuts, milk, grains, and certain fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Part of the problem, according to NPD analyst Darren Seifer, is that 70 percent of survey takers didn’t know how much protein they need. When asked how they measure protein intake, he says, most said by simply looking at their food. And how you make Cheerios appear more protein-packed than before remains unclear.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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