General Mills to release BFast, a new 'breakfast shake'

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 1, 2013 - 5:51 PM

General Mills’ new BFast is a shelf-stable drink aimed at those who skip the first meal of the day.

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Betsy Frost, a General Mills marketing manager, held a glass of a new “breakfast shake” product called BFast. The 8-ounce drink is aimed at breakfast skippers.

Photo: Photos by Bruce Bisping • bbisping@startribune.com,

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It’s made from milk and has the nutrition profile of a bowl of breakfast cereal. Yet it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can be gulped down in a hurry — no spoon necessary.

The product is a “breakfast shake” called BFast, and it’s one of the latest and more intriguing concoctions from General Mills. The Golden Valley-based packaged-foods giant began shipping BFast last week, aiming to have it in stores across the country this summer. Locally, it’s expected to land on shelves at Wal-Mart and Cub Foods.

BFast is aimed primarily at 18- to 35-year-olds, an age group notorious for being in too much of a hurry to eat breakfast. “We designed it to go after the breakfast skippers,” said Betsy Frost, a marketing manager in General Mills’ Big G cereal division.

“They know they need breakfast, but they don’t have it,” she said. With no breakfast, skippers get “the hangrys” around 10 to 11 a.m., Frost said. That would be “hungry” and “angry” combined, with the former fomenting the latter.

BFast comes in three flavors — chocolate, vanilla and berry — and will be stocked in the cereal section of grocery stores. General Mills is also angling to get the product, which comes in a container akin to a juice pack, distributed through convenience stores. It has a high “snackability” quotient, Frost said.

An 8-ounce BFast is designed nutritionally to be an on-the-go version of cereal with milk, she said. With 180 to 190 calories, it has 8 grams of whole grains, 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and is fortified with myriad vitamins and minerals. It also, however, contains 25 grams of sugar, considerably more than General Mills’ cereal offerings.

BFast will come in three-packs with a manufacturers’ recommended cost of $4.49, and single containers priced at $1.79.

The product is aimed at a breakfast market segment that General Mills currently isn’t meeting, Frost said. But Big G won’t be alone: Its cereal archrival Kellogg is also rolling out a breakfast shake called Kellogg’s To Go. Flavors are chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and To Go also comes in a powder mix.

The quickie breakfast concept isn’t entirely new. Powdered Carnation instant breakfast dates back to the 1960s. And both powdered and ready-to-drink Carnation Breakfast Essentials grace supermarket shelves to this day.

But General Mills is focusing not only on a shelf-stable liquid product, it’s specifically aiming at mobile, young consumers, said Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at researcher Datamonitor Consumer. “They’re looking at this as the next big thing for people on the go.”

The breakfast shake has certainly worked well in Australia. “We were inspired by a product called Up & Go in Australia,” Frost said. “We kind of brought the general idea here.”

General Mills did a regional launch of BFast earlier this year in New England. To help promote it, the company used “campus ambassadors” — students paid a stipend to pass out samples. And General Mills relied heavily on Pandora, an Internet radio service.

The campus ambassador concept and nontraditional marketing will continue with the national rollout. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will be key tools, Frost said. “It’s really targeted in the digital, social space.”

 

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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  • A single serving of BFast has 180 to 190 calories, 8 grams of whole grains, 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.

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