Consumer demand for whole, unrefined ingredients has made superstars out of some decidedly unsophisticated foods. Such is the case now with granola, that curious blend of oats, nuts, rice and other crunchy bits that's returned to its health food roots after a lengthy detour into processed varieties.
Unlike the cardboard-tasting granolas of yesteryear, manufacturers also have their sights set on flavor. Granola bars, a $1 billion business, are now made using ingredients like almond butter and nutrient-rich fruits like cranberries and pomegranates. Earnest Eats, based in Solana Beach, Calif., makes bars that combine apples with ginger, cranberries with lemon zest, and are bound together using brown rice syrup.
“I was looking for ingredients that were as much about premium taste appeal as they were about being healthy,” said Andrew Aussie, president and founder of Earnest Eats.
Likewise, boxed and bagged granolas now contain more artisan, superfood ingredients. Nature's Path offers granola cereals made with coconut, dark chocolate and pomegranates. Bob's Red Mill in Portland, Ore., meanwhile, recently released four new flavors including honey oat, cinnamon raisin and apple blueberry.
“You can sit down and eat it like a breakfast cereal, but it's easier to snack on.” said Matt Cox, Bob's marketing director.
Traditional choices have seen significant sales growth. Bob's country-style bagged muesli now has sales that rank in the top 10 of Bob's Red Mill's more than 400 products.