Posted by: Erin | October 1, 2008

Packaging Organic Cereals

Lately, I’ve been dipping my toe into the pool of organic foods. I have a sample of some organic granola at home that I haven’t tried yet (and, of course, I will post when I do), and I used some “all natural” Bear Naked granola when I made the kiddie apple crisp the other day. Today, I came across this 11-brand taste-test of organic breakfast cereals.

It’s a funny read, because the comments remind me of a wine tasting. The interesting thing to me is that none of the cereals seem to really stand out, unless the tasters considered them horrible. Additionally, I noticed a lack of creativity in the box design. You hear all the time that kid’s cereal boxes have cartoon characters with the eyes pointed down, to essentially make eye contact with children at their height level, but even non-kiddie cereals seem to have more thought put into the packaging. Maybe the organic brands don’t think they need to, because they’re more concerned with the actual product, but I don’t think that’s the case. If anything, I think they should be MORE concerned with packaging. As far as I’ve seen, organic food falls into two categories with consumers, mentally: luxury item or hippie-food. And a lot of the stuff in this review looks like it’s the stereotypical hippie-crunchy stuff (no pun intended).

I don’t know about you, but none of that packaging makes me want to take a chance on these cereals. It actually makes me not want to, because it feels too “health food” for my tastes. Sure, I want to eat healthy, but I don’t want to be chomping on cardboard. And, as organic foods tend to cost more, I expect the packaging to live up to that, and look like they spent some time and effort on it. (If you’re going to charge more, the product should obviously be superior, but a big part of luxury branding involves creating a feeling, a perceived value, to the consumer.) Too much of this stuff falls into the “generic organic” look. I can only remember one brand name from the taste-test: Cascadian Farm.

If you look at the family of products Cascadian Farm offers, you can see that there’s a clear method to how they’ve branded themselves and packaged their products. And that to me says that they care about what their selling, that they believe in their product. And THAT is what’s going to make me want to try their stuff over other organic brands. (Coincidentally, that sample I have that I haven’t tried yet? It’s for the Cascadian Farm dark chocolate almond granola.) The actual product comes into play here (Do I want dried cranberries in my cereal? Do I prefer chocolate chips in my granola bars?), of course, but if it’s packaged badly, I’m spending my money elsewhere, because when it’s packaged badly, it says to me that you don’t care enough about what you’re selling to give it the proper introduction to potential consumers. It’s sort of like going to a networking mixer in sweats. And once you make that bad (or simply forgettable) first impression, it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole.



  1. Honestly, I don’t mind the EnviroKids packaging or the Nature’s Path packaging; both are pretty in line with most cereal packaging trends I’ve seen, although ultimately a bit more “organic, natureish” looking. And to be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Cascadian Farm’s packaging. It’s too generic and store-brand looking for my taste, and it bothers me that this one company has been cornering the market on “organic” for so many years. I’d rather grow and freeze my own veggies, thanks – or buy them from the farmers directly.

  2. EnviroKids isn’t horrible and it IS aimed at kids, but the others are so… blandly cardboard.

    I don’t think Cascadian Farms is the most innovative packaging ever, but it’s clean, and it has a more polished feel to it than most of the others. I just think so many of these brands could do better.

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