The cereal category is one in which consumers have embraced organic, thanks to the health ­credentials of products such as muesli and the close connection such products have with the land.

Jordans Cereals is one such company that developed organic products as part of its commitment to sustainable agriculture. The company has been selling organic cereals since the 1970s and is now the largest organic cereals manufacturer in the UK with five products, including muesli, porridge oats and a maple & pecan bar.

Julia Freeman, senior brand manager at Jordans Cereals, says that the organic cereal sector is currently thriving. "There's no question that this growth has resulted from people becoming much more interested in where their food comes from and how it is grown in order to make purchase decisions based on ethical and nutritional considerations."

Freeman says that just 12% of the UK population buys 68% of all organic food, and believes that products need to follow mainstream trends in order to gain a greater audience.

"We can see that many of the new product development drivers within organic are similar to those in the mainstream market, for example low fat products."

Organic cereal producer Alara Foods has been developing products that tick more than just the organic box in order to appeal to a wider range of consumers. The company produces a range of muesli, including a gluten-free variant, and recently launched its LifeStage Nutrition range

of products.

Three years in the making, the new products have been designed to combine organic with other key health trends of the moment.

Three have been developed - Growing Years, Prime Years and Blooming Years - each containing ingredients such as Omega-3 and 6, Vitamin E, selenium, zinc and folic acid, and designed for different stages in people's lives.

Organic cereal could become even more mainstream in the future with Wal-Mart in the US rumoured to be considerably ramping up its organic offerings to bring the category to the masses.

Kellogg in the US is said to be heeding Wal-Mart's requests, and products for the UK could also be on the cards soon.

Freeman is less convinced about how mainstream cereal will become. "We would not expect the market to expand massively and become a mainstream farming process as some have predicted," she says.

"There simply isn't the infrastructure in place. The market itself is driven by a core group of loyal consu­mers who aren't likely to increase exponentially."n