In pursuit of innovation

New twists on cereal

Another start-up striving to transform traditional breakfast offerings is Seven Sundays, a Minneapolis-based muesli brand founded by Hannah Barnstable and her husband, Brady.

“It’s sort of a forgotten mealtime in the U.S.,” Ms. Barnstable said. “Growing up, it was always a big deal in our households to sit down and eat breakfast and have it be an actual meal time — not just running around and eating something that was really processed or bad for you.

“With Seven Sundays, we wanted to create a product that solves breakfast, that gives you that feeling of a Sunday, when you may take a little more time or put a little more thought into what you’re eating in the morning.”

Made with nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains and organic honey, muesli varieties include original toasted, vanilla cherry pecan, ginger pear macadamia, Bircher (an unsweetened Swiss-style muesli), and gluten-free blueberry chia buckwheat.

The company recently expanded into the nutrition bar category with the launch of breakfast squares in such flavors as blueberry lemon chia, cocoa pumpkin seed and banana toasted pecan.

“Most of the bar set is processed and very sugary, so what we’re trying to offer is something that can be a complete meal, if you’re traveling or just don’t have a lot of time in the morning but still want good quality ingredients, like chia seeds, coconut oil, maple syrup,” Ms. Barnstable said. “With our flavor profiles, our goal was to really feel like you’re eating something special, like it was prepared for you, and it’s fresh and has really nice flavors.”


In pursuit of innovation

Modern Oats, Irvine, Calif., is a gourmet, gluten-free oatmeal brand, offering products packaged in single-serve cups with whole grains, nuts and seeds. Varieties include mango blackberry, chocolate cherry, nuts and seeds, apple walnut, five-berry and goji blueberry. The company last year added four more flavors: no-sugar-added five-berry, Vermont maple, coconut almond and a plain variety called Just Oats.

“Obviously we didn’t invent the category, and we certainly didn’t invent oatmeal, so we had to be a bit of a disruptor and try new things,” said Richard Principale, president and c.e.o. of parent company Innovative Beverage Concepts, Inc. “We felt all you hear about are old-fashioned oats… What if you wanted more stylish, up-to-date oats with goji berries and blueberries and tied into some health trends like non-G.M.O. and gluten-free? What would you have? Well, you’d have Modern Oats.”

Being a small player has its perks, he said.

“These big companies don’t necessarily just wake up and change things overnight, so it gives you the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, let’s go for it,’” he said. “There’s no big board here to spend three years deciding whether we’re going to go non-G.M.O. We just do it.”