Oreo O’s will return to U.S. grocery store shelves on June 23 after a 10-year absence, manufacturer Post Holdings said on its website.
The crème-coated, Oreo-flavored cereal will be sold exclusively in Walmart stores for a three-month period, although it has continued to be available in South Korea and online.
The cereal debuted in 1998 and was sold through 2007, when Post split with the Kraft Foods Group, which is now part of Mondelez International. Post owns the cereal’s recipe while Mondelez owns the rights to the Oreo brand name.
Oreo cereal fans have Walmart to thank for its limited-period renaissance, according to AdAge. The retail giant has reportedly worked with manufacturers to bring back a number of throwback products, including Oreo O’s and Zima, citing consumers’ desire for nostalgic products that remind them of a better part of their life.
Nostalgia is a growing counter trend in the food and beverage industry as consumers show increasing concern about sugar and artificial ingredients. Soda companies have tapped into the trend in the past year with launches like PepsiCo's Crystal Pepsi and Coca-Cola's Surge, while B&G Foods’ Green Giant brand brought back its Jolly Green Giant in an ad campaign earlier this year.
The cereal category has been struggling of late, with sales declining for major manufacturers General Mills and Kellogg as consumers seek out less-processed products with healthier, on-trend ingredients. Instead, cereal makers have gradually rolled out new formulations with added protein, fiber and whole grains. They’re phasing out artificial flavors and colors and reducing sugar amounts. Many companies are adding ancient grains, superfoods, seeds and nuts.
The cereal sector often finds itself between two worlds, with highly nutritious options on one end and highly indulgent products on the other. The enduring success of cereals like Lucky Charms shows that there is still strong market demand for the latter, and its maker General Mills generated significant attention when it announced in May that it would offer 10,000 boxes of a marshmallow-only variety.
Stable sales of indulgent cereals may seem contradictory when so many consumers claim they seek out healthy options, but research suggests that most Americans have a skewed perception of the healthfulness of their diet. According to the CDC, more than 80% fail to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and many eat too much sugar and refined grains.
For Post, there are no plans to retreat from such an essential part of their business — only to reinvigorate it. While discontinuing poor-performing niche brands, Post is also working to improve the flavor, update the look of its branded cereals and reduce the size of its bagged cereal displays. The company's strategy has paid off so far, with net sales up 2% last year — a stark contrast with the cereal sales declines suffered by rivals.
“It’s not real sexy, but it makes money,” Post CEO Chris Neugent told the Star Tribune in his first interview since Post Foods’ merger with Mom Brands lead to the creation of Post Consumer Brands in 2015.