Kraft Foods Inc. Thursday said it plans to sell 100 percent whole grain versions of its popular Chips Ahoy and Fig Newton cookies in its latest attempt to tap into consumers’ interests in healthier eating.
The cookies, as well as 100 percent whole grain Wheat Thins crackers, also will have 0 grams of artery-clogging trans fats, the company said.
Increasing consumption of whole grains is one of the points of emphasis in the “food pyramid” guidelines introduced earlier this year by the U.S. government.
Food companies have been adding whole grains to products for months now, with General Mills Inc. using whole grains in all its breakfast cereals.
But making whole grain versions of well-known cookies has proved harder than doing the same for cereals or crackers, Roger Deromedi, Kraft chief executive, said in an interview.
“Getting a cookie that tastes as good as an iconic brand like Chips Ahoy is very difficult,” he said.
Kraft, the largest U.S. food company, made the announcement as part of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity on Thursday.
Separately, the company is also selling a whole grain version of its macaroni and cheese.
Earlier this year, Kraft started selling foods under the South Beach Diet brand in conjunction with Dr. Arthur Agatston, the creator of the diet that emphasizes whole grains, lean meats and leafy vegetables while eschewing refined carbohydrates like pasta and bread.
The company has also been selling 100-calorie packages of Oreo cookies, Chips Ahoy and other products.
The healthier products are helping boost sales at Kraft, rather than just taking away sales from its other products, Deromedi said.
“We are finding we are getting incremental sales and that has been a big focus of what we do in our new product development,” Deromedi said.
“In general health and wellness products within most of our categories are growing 3-4 times the category” as a whole, albeit from a lower base, Deromedi added.