Why the Chinese didn’t fall for Weetabix’s soggy serving of mush | Life and style

0
1

However much affection you feel for Weetabix, a product that, for me, will for ever be associated with the rough scrape of the loving maternal handkerchief, it’s not hard to understand why it has failed to win over those with no such fond childhood memories. The cereal’s Chinese owner, Bright Foods – which bought the brand in 2012 believing that the world’s most populous country was on the brink of a Damascene conversion in the breakfast department – has sold it to US giant Post Holdings after failing to win over consumers. Frankly, it’s little wonder – if I could walk out of my front door and find stalls selling fluffy barbecue pork buns, spicy hand-pulled noodles or crispy spring onion pancakes, I wouldn’t much fancy an unseasoned lump of compressed grass either.

Perhaps if Chinese customers had benefited from the recent serving suggestion on British packaging, encouraging consumers to put a Midlands spin on US favourite eggs benedict “by switching a muffin for our nutritious Weetabix”, things might have been different. Although, as one of the few people to have tried a desiccated wheat biscuit topped with ham, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, I doubt it.

Somewhat surprisingly, for a product without much discernible flavour, Weetabix is sold in more than 80 countries around the world, although the UK accounts for 70% of sales. The company has joint ventures in South Africa and Kenya (where it boasts the distinction of being “east Africa’s leading breakfast cereal”), and a manufacturing plant in Ontario to supply the North American market. Although some US consumers, reared on the obvious charms of Froot Loops and Cap’n Crunch, express puzzlement at this “entirely unappealing” mush from across the pond, others laud the biscuits as a vehicle for maple syrup or peanut butter and jelly, while in Australia (where Weetabix was invented nearly a century ago), they’re given a local flavour with the addition of Vegemite.

No wonder the UK – which still appreciates the attractions of a gloriously bland, comfortingly soggy serving of utterly unchallenging mush – remains its biggest market. A nation requires a certain sort of mild-mannered temperament to start the day on a dish so inoffensive in both texture and flavour that it’s classic weaning fodder, and, frankly, not everyone has it.

Which is not to say that Weetabix has nothing going for it beyond being suitable fare for the toothless at either end of the age scale. In comparison with many upstarts in the cereal aisle, it’s low in sugar, high in fibre and has a refreshingly short list of ingredients, at the top of which is British wheat – grown, in fact, within 50 miles of its Northamptonshire mill. So, although it may not be able to compete in a market where breakfast tastes run more to the hot and savoury than the cold and … well, let’s say neutral, its failure to break China is unlikely to make us love it any less. Just hold the hollandaise.

Click to view the original article on The Guardian.

SHARE
Previous articleMaruyama Park.
TheGuardian
Covering American and international news for an online, global audience.Our team of US-based journalists is most recently renowned for its Pulitzer Prize-winning revelations based on the disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here