ATLANTA — It's been many years since Pop-Tarts have been considered just breakfast fare. About half of millennials eat the toaster pastries as an afternoon snack, said Ami O’Keefe, senior commercial strategy manager for convenience at Kellogg Co.
Based on that insight, Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg is introducing Pop-Tarts Pretzel, which feature a salted pretzel crust and cinnamon sugar or chocolate filling. The product is debuting in grocery stores and convenience stores in December and was unveiled at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ 2019 NACS Show, held Oct. 1-4 in Atlanta.
“This really plays into that whole sweet and savory flavor combination trend,” Ms. O’Keefe told Food Business News. “Our regular Pop-Tarts have more of a pastry crust. These are more of an actual pretzel crust.”
The flavor twist marks a new direction for the Pop-Tarts brand, she said.
“We do limited-time offerings and seasonal flavors and new flavors all the time, but to do something as unique as this ... and take that brand into a new daypart or occasion is really exciting,” Ms. O’Keefe said.
Pop-Tarts Pretzel was among several new snacks previewed at the show. The company also is introducing Rice Krispies Treats Dunk’d bars, featuring marshmallow treats dipped in a chocolate or cookies and creme coating. New Rice Krispies Snap Crackle Poppers varieties, which are coated, bite-size squares, include caramel and vanilla creme, joining chocolate and cookies and creme flavors.
“We launched the Poppers at the beginning of this year, and those have been a tremendous success for us,” Ms. O’Keefe said. “We’re very excited to be able to bring that to the bar set within the candy aisle.”
New Pringles flavors include rotisserie chicken and Parmesan and roasted garlic. The latest additions build on the brand’s “flavor stacking” marketing campaign that encourages consumers to mix and match Pringles crisps to create new flavor combinations.
“We’re calling them our new ‘stackworthy’ flavors — it’s chicken parm,” Ms. O’Keefe said. “For Pringles, it’s a brand that’s known for having a lot of flavor variety. We always want to keep bringing new news there and keeping consumers engaged.”
The Cheez-It brand is introducing “extra cheesy” crackers in grocery and convenience stores in December. Cheez-It “extra toasty” crackers, which have become the brand’s third bestselling flavor, will debut in convenience stores. The extra toasty cracker was created based on consumer requests, Ms. O’Keefe said.
“We would get a lot of feedback on social media and through email saying, ‘I love the burnt ones. Those are my favorite,’” Ms. O’Keefe said. “After hearing that for long enough we decided to actually intentionally toast them a little bit further and offer that. It’s been a tremendous success for us and one of our lead flavors now.”
Much of Kellogg’s innovation is driven by insights on consumption occasions, Ms. O’Keefe said. Recent launches add new textures and novel flavors to the company’s decades-old brands.
“With brands like Pop-Tarts and Rice Krispies Treats, you’ve got people who have been loving and consuming those brands for years,” she said. “They really do span multiple generations. We actually think about it more in terms of eating occasions. That’s really what drives a lot of our innovation. Obviously trends and consumer preferences, but looking at our portfolio and where it’s best meeting the needs of our consumers and where there’s opportunity for us to better meet the needs of our consumers is what drives a lot of the R.&D. work and the innovation that we put forward.”