Why Triscuit Is Putting Rice, Potatoes and Beans in Its Crackers

Old-School Brand Tries New Approach to Satisfy Snack-Obsessed America

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Is it a cracker? Or a meal?

Triscuit is putting major marketing support behind its new Brown Rice Triscuit lineup that features varieties not normally found in snack crackers like red bean with roasted red pepper and sweet potato with roasted sweet onion. The line extension marks a major shift for a 110-year-old brand known for its simplistic wheat-packed crackers. By adding rice, potatoes and spices like basil and sea salt, Triscuit is seeking to appeal to consumers who are eating more snacks and less traditional meals.

Triscuit sweet potato print ad
Triscuit sweet potato print ad

"Consumers are looking for a lot of the same things they used to find in meals in snacks," said Jimmy Wu, senior brand manager for Triscuit, which is owned by Mondelez International. "And that's really foods with real food ingredients and real food value in them."

Snacks account for a third of the calories consumed daily by adults, according to a recent Rabobank Group report, which notes that for some consumers snacking is becoming the "default way of eating."

There is still plenty of wheat in the new Triscuits, but the varieties mix in whole grain brown rice with sweet potato or red beans to give the cracker a "lighter texture with a crispier crunch."

Of course it doesn't hurt that many consumers associate ingredients like red beans, whole grains and sweet potatoes with better-for-you foods. Mr. Wu said the brand looked for ingredients that were "both wholesome and can deliver great taste." Print advertising touts "real food" ingredients.

But there isn't much of a real health difference between the new and old Triscuits. Traditional Triscuits actually contain fewer calories, at 120, than the brown rice and sweet potato variety, which has 130 calories. The sweet potato version also has more total fat -- 4.5 grams per serving -- compared with 4 grams for traditional. But the sodium content is lower in the potato variety, which has 85 milligrams per serving, compared with 160 milligrams in original.

Mr. Wu said the product targets younger baby boomers. The creative in one TV spot [below] from CP&B should resonate with that group. The spot features a couple women decked in 1980s-era clothing and makeup who rave about the cracker while munching. "Maybe we should give other new things a chance," one of them says. Asked about the media buy, Mr. Wu said "we'll be supporting this in a big way," noting the ads will run through the end of September.

Triscuit is the sixth-largest brand in the U.S. cracker and biscuit category, with 7.2% share, according to Euromonitor International.

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