EXCLUSIVE: B&G Revitalizing Cream of Wheat Brand

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EXCLUSIVE: B&G Revitalizing Cream of Wheat Brand

B&G Foods, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality, shelf-stable foods, has entered a new phase in its strategic rebuilding of the Cream of Wheat brand with the rollout of Cream of Wheat Healthy Grain Instant Hot Cereal. Parsippany, N.J.-based B&G acquired the iconic brand in 2007.

To mark the occasion, B&G president and CEO David L. Wenner will ring the opening bell today at the New York Stock Exchange, joined by B&G employees.

Available in Original and Maple Brown Sugar varieties, the new Healthy Grain products are made from 100 percent whole grain, offering over 40 grams per serving, and are an excellent source of fiber (six grams), calcium, vitamin D, iron and folic acid, as well as being a good source of protein (seven grams), cholesterol free, low-fat. Both contain zero grams of sugar, the Maple Brown Sugar variety being sweetened with Splenda. A 12.7-ounce box of eight 45-gram packs retails for a suggested $3.99.

“Through our marketing and new product efforts, B&G Foods is building on the tradition of the well-respected Cream of Wheat brand, reminding consumers how good it was, and how good it still is,” noted Wenner, adding that the Healthy Grain products “speak directly to consumers’ desire for nutritional products with more whole grain and fiber.”

B&G’s Cream of Wheat director of marketing, Brandi Unchester, told Progressive Grocer that the company’s brand-rebuilding efforts began with a marketing campaign to jog consumers’ memories about the product. “People sort of forgot about it,” she admitted. “But when they’re reminded, it brings back a lot of warm memories.”

Last year, according to Unchester, B&G launched two new Cream of Wheat items, including a whole grain version of original 2-½ minute Cream of Wheat, offering four grains of fiber per serving.

A recent offer to try Cream of Wheat free featured on Internet banner ads was a runaway success, she added, noting that requests for the product reached 300,000 – three times the expected amount. An icon on Facebook enabling users to get free samples netted an additional 20,000 requests. As a result, future ad campaigns will rely more on the Web, a medium Unchester referred to as “effective and cost-effective.”

Additional tweaks include a planned update of the classic packaging within the next year, for which B&G is considering “contemporizing the color and adding some appetite appeal,” says Unchester, stressing that any changes would be subtle, so as not alienate consumers used to product’s familiar look.

More Healthy Grain varieties are expected to roll out in the fall, she notes.

B&G Foods also introduced today a Cream of Wheat Instant Hot Cereal variety pack featuring SpongeBob SquarePants – the brand’s first instant hot cereal with a character tie-in, says Unchester. The new products rolled out today will be supported by such marketing and advertising initiatives as couponing, sampling and in-store displays.

Initially, consumers will find new Cream of Wheat Healthy Grain Instant products at Wal-Mart and Publix and the new Cream of Wheat Instant Hot Cereal Variety Pack featuring SpongeBob SquarePants at Wal-Mart, Safeway and Meijer. The products are expected to be available nationally by the autumn.

Although it was introduced way back in 1893, Cream of Wheat still has “a lot of untapped potential,” says Unchester, citing the fact that recent IRI data shows the brand up 6 percent in dollar sales, in an overall category that’s currently down 2 percent. “It’s now the brand driving the category,” observes Unchester, who attributes this surge in interest – even ahead of the latest product rollout – to financially shaken consumers’ increasing desire for “comfort foods with healthy benefits.”

Competing in the retail grocery, foodservice, specialty, private label, club and mass merchandiser channels of distribution, B&G’s brands include Ac’cent, B&G, B&M, Brer Rabbit, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, Emeril’s, Grandma’s Molasses, Joan of Arc, Las Palmas, Maple Grove Farms of Vermont, Ortega, Polaner, Red Devil, Regina, Sa-són, Trappey’s, Underwood, Vermont Maid and Wright’s.