With its mix of textures and flavors, manufacturers say flexibility is part of granola’s charm.
Its adaptability has also led to combining indulgent, fan-favorite inclusions with ingredients that further boost granola’s nutritional profile.
“Consumers look for taste, quality, and creative versatility—whether in flavor or new form factors like snackable bites or clusters—and choose granola primarily because of the experience of enjoying it,” says Sean Silk, brand manager at Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, MI. “They also tend to pick up products with ingredients like fruit, whole grains, and even chocolate, with a focus on protein, fiber, and potentially low-calorie or added vitamins options.”
Sarah House, food innovation chef, Bob’s Red Mill, Milwaukie, OR, agreed, pointing to the many ways consumers can experience granola.
“It can be sprinkled over yogurt, smoothies, or ice cream as a crunchy topping; enjoyed with milk and fruit like cereal; mixed in with oatmeal for added oomph; or eaten as an on-the-go snack for hiking, camping, and beyond,” House says.
No matter how, consumers certainly enjoy granola. ReAnIn (Research Analysis Insights) valued the global granola market at $8.7 billion in 2021. It’s expected to reach $12.6 billion in 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.4%.
Future Market Insights cited increased interest in health and wellness as a driver for growth in the granola category, thanks to ingredients like oats and nuts, which can support heart and digestive health. The research firm also noted competition in the category will prompt manufacturers to call out nutritional and functional claims.
“Consumers look for a delightful crunch, a crispy, toasted texture, and a rich flavor,” House says. “Nuts, oats, grains, seeds, and fruit provide additional nutrition that many are also looking for in their breakfasts and snacks.”
Flavor and texture
While granola combines many different ingredients, much thought goes into how they pair together and how consumers will enjoy them.
“Texture is key for appealing to consumers,” House says. “Some prefer granola with big chunks, while others prefer smaller pieces, and that will be a determining factor when selecting a granola. A satisfying crunch has a lot of appeal.”
Flavor is another key component. Silk says the Bear Naked brand seeks to strike a balance between bold and beloved flavors.
“We like to push the boundaries with flavors and experiment in creative ways,” Silk says. “Our goal is to offer flavors that offer broad appeal and work well for creative usage and versatility.”
House says Bob’s Red Mill asks its employees across departments to taste-test new products and offer their feedback on flavors, textures, and other elements.
“We get some fantastic insights that way from a wide range of people,” House says. “In the early stages, our innovation team looks at what is popular already, what other flavors would pair well with granola and are unique to the category, and what kinds of flavors have done well for us in other categories. We take all of that and begin experimenting to see what tastes the best.”
Bear Naked offers granola featuring classic, well-loved flavors such as Banana Nut, Cacao & Cashew Butter, Fruit & Nut, Maple Pecan, and Peanut Butter, but it has moved beyond flavor to include more nutritional, functional options.
The brand offers reduced-sugar granola—with 45-50% less sugar—in V’Nilla Almond and Triple Berry flavors. Bear Naked also has 0g Added Sugar Granola in a Peanut Butter Crunch variety.
Additionally, the brand has introduced two protein options with 11g per serving, as well as grain-free varieties loaded with nuts and seeds instead of oats.
“We want to ensure we’re offering a variety of products to fit all of our consumers’ needs—it’s for the everyday and for everyone to enjoy,” Silk says.
Removing grains in favor of seeds is the core mission of SeedWise, Ontario, Canada. The company, founded by Ozery Family Bakery, launched its grain-free granola in the U.S. last month in two varieties: Lemon Blueberry and Chocolate Cherry.
“We’re confident that our allergy-friendly products will give consumers that delicious, craveable, and actually good for you snack they’ve been searching for in the market,” says Guy Ozery, founder and CEO of SeedWise. “We’re looking forward to educating consumers on the benefits of seeds, why they are so powerful, and how they can fit into their daily snacking routine.”
Inspired by the tradition of muesli—European breakfast cereal with whole grains, nuts, fruits, and seeds—GUUD, Westford, MA, recently introduced two products that combine the best of muesli and granola to create “mues-ola.” The company has launched Almond Cranberry Clusters with gluten-free oats, granola clusters, raisins, almonds, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds, as well as Toasted Nutty Cacao, which features gluten-free oats, raisins, bananas, almonds, pecans, cacao nibs, and walnuts tossed in pure maple syrup.
“We talked to hundreds of consumers and were struck by how many are combining various cereal and muesli bases but then adding granola to the top to create the perfect combo,” says GUUD CEO Jean Lizotte. “It was obvious that GUUD was the team to fill this void and make life easier by bringing their mash-ups to life. We worked with nutrition experts and foodies to create high protein and fiber recipes with unique and flavorful plant-based whole foods that we can feel great about enjoying since they’re good for our bodies.”
Meanwhile, Bob’s Red Mill introduced its Homestyle Granolas about a year ago, in varieties including Classic, Honey Oat, Apple Blueberry, Cinnamon Raisin, Lemon Blueberry, Coconut Spice, Cranberry Almond, Maple Sea Salt, and Peanut Butter. The company also offers gluten-free versions of its Apple Blueberry and Honey Oat varieties.
House says Bob’s Red Mill has been pleased with the consumer reception so far.
“Not only did our group of internal taste testers love them, but consumers have really responded well,” House says. “We focused on creating a crisp texture and rich flavors that taste like something you could pull out of your own home oven.” SF&WB