Kelloggs Special K barley

Kellogg’s has come under fire from disgruntled shoppers after altering the recipe for Special K.

The company started rolling out the new version last month and has been met with a barrage of complaints from fans of the previous recipe, which had not changed since 1983.

More than a hundred shoppers have posted negative comments on the brand’s Facebook page, while almost 70 have complained via The Grocer’s website.

“The flakes are too hard - Kellogg’s have totally spoilt my breakfast” grumbled one consumer, while another asked: “Is it true they are going to rename Special K to ‘Not So Special K?” and another implored: “At least keep the original on the market so consumers have the choice”.

All variants now include barley in addition to the current rice and wheat, and are made with wholegrain. Many fans complained the new cereal was too sugary - with a few suggesting it had a frosted sugar coating.

Kellogg’s said it had not increased the sugar content - which remains 17% - but some of the sugar was now baked on to the outside of the flake to give it more ‘crunch’.

“It’s always difficult when you make changes to a product the size of Special K,” said brand communications manager Louisa Thompson Davies. Kellogg’s “had not made the changes lightly”, she added, and the recipe had performed well when test-marketed in Europe last year.

“When we made our last recipe change in the 1980s we received complaints but the product went on to become our biggest-seller in the UK.”

Kellogg’s claimed the level of “constructive feedback” had been relatively low and that it had received many positive responses. The company is hoping the recipe revives sales, which have fallen 11.4% in value year-on-year to £97.2m [IRI 52 w/e 27 April 2013].