Golden Valley based General Mills issued a statement saying that the company will be putting out gluten-free Cheerios later this fall, and the new formula will be available in 5 different varieties.
Cheerios itself is based off of whole grain oats, which is already a gluten-free ingredient, but there are still a few changes that need to be made in order to meet the EPA guidelines relating to labeling a product gluten-free. General Mills had to find a way to ensure that the wheat, rye and barely used in the various cereals are completely free of gluten, which has been something the company has been working towards for a number of years.
The varieties you will be able to find with the gluten-free label include Original Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. General Mills only had to make a couple of changes to the Multi-Grain variety, which included changing up the wheat and barely to gluten-free grains sorghum and millet. General Mills will be making sure that during the transportation and processing phase of the production that no gluten grains will get into the boxes of cereal that might accidentally come from the farms.
An interesting aspect of the gluten-free label is that it can help a product sell or increase in sales, which is something General Mills found out in 2010. During 2010, Chex was not doing very well in the sales department, but once General Mills decided to put the gluten-free label on the product, it actually began selling a lot better in stores. It seems that within the past 5 years, there has been an increased desire for gluten-free products in the stores, specifically, breakfast foods such as cereal. Back the day, cereals used to be thought of as just sugar and carbohydrates, which meant that sales began decreasing as a movement toward healthier morning products started to rise. As companies found their products slumping in the stores, they all began finding new ways to make their products healthier, and making your cereal gluten-free is one of the easiest ways this can be accomplished.
There is also an increase in the number of people who are being diagnosed with Celiac Disease each year, which is basically an intolerance to gluten. Most of these cases are coming up during childhood and early adulthood, which is the essential demographic for cereal, so companies like General Mills had to act quickly to figure out how to get this demographic back onto the cereal ship. Although the gluten-free Cheerios won’t be available nationwide until the fall of 2015, it’s a significant indication that the consumer needs and wants are shifting, from a nonchalant attitude towards a desire to live healthier. It also seems that parents are becoming more engaged in the eating behaviors of their children, teaching them from an early age to choose the healthier food options available to them, which is good even if it’s a forced experience through a Celiac Disease diagnosis.