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Baked goods have long been the literal bread and butter of Panera’s breakfast menu, but the new Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal furthers the brand’s shift toward healthier options.
Launched on the first day of spring, the Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal includes organic quinoa, steel-cut oats, toasted almonds, cinnamon, and honey. Aside from bakery items such as bagels, muffins, and cinnamon rolls, Panera’s breakfast offerings have been largely driven by sandwiches and a few baked egg soufflés. At 290 calories, the quinoa oatmeal joins the Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries & Pecans as a lighter alternative to the first daypart.
“Our bread and bakery are the foundation of Panera,” says Katie Bengston via e-mail. Bengston is a registered dietician for Panera. “Fresh baking will continue to play a vital role in our identity, but we’re also answering the growing demand for more meal options in the morning.”
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is cooked and consumed like a whole grain, although it is technically a seed. Rich in protein and a number of vitamins, quinoa is one of the South American super foods like also chia seeds and açaí berries that has piqued consumer interest in recent years.
In addition to the Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal, Panera has also incorporated quinoa into other dayparts with the Lentil Quinoa Bowl as part of its new line of broth bowls. Bengston says customers can expect to see quinoa pop up around other parts of the menu in the future: both the oatmeal and the broth bowl have permanent homes on the menu.
“Quinoa is the newest item in our pantry, and we love its diversity of use for multiple occasions throughout the day,” Bengston says. “We have sourced a quality supply of quinoa through a small company specializing in organic whole grains and want to highlight the various taste profiles of this power grain.”
While some health-conscious consumers are eschewing gluten or even grains altogether, other wellness-minded groups are seeking out unprocessed whole grains. Bengston says that the new breakfast item is an ideal choice for customers seeking energy from whole grains to power through their mornings.
“We want to be an ally for wellness for our guests. That means providing options that meet various needs,” Bengston says. “We understand how busy our guests are balancing their day-to-day responsibilities, and options like the Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal help support wellness amidst a busy routine.”
By Nicole Duncan