Sugar Puffs maker Honey Monster Foods (HMF) has dropped its first health-orientated kids cerealbefore it has even hit the shelves, as it turns its focus to limited editions andpre-sweetened cereals.

It was due to launch Monster Rocks, its first better-for-you product targeting kids, this month, but has now scrapped its plans in the wake of last-minute product and market research - including a taste test conducted by The Grocer.

"We received great initial interest from retailers but decided not to go ahead with the launch following additional taste-testing prompted by some negative feedback from The Grocer's Acid Test," a spokesman said.

"Consumer research also revealed that mums prefer pre-sweetened cereal as a way of controlling their children's sugar intake, rather than serving a bland cereal and letting their kids loose on the sugar bowl."

An industry expert said the costly decision to drop the launch was also likely to be linked to the introduction of The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulations in February this year, following the European Food Safety Authority's announcement last year that it would crack down on food health claims.

"In light of this development, HMF may have reconsidered the true health credentials of Monster Rocks and the claims that they were planning to make, causing it to pull back at the last minute," said Dave Lawrence, senior consultant at brand agency The Value Engineers.

A £1m campaign had been planned to support the launch of Monster Rocks, which HMF was positioning as a "wholesome cereal option containing no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives".

HMF said it would now focus instead on its limited-edition Sugar Puffs and growing its pre-sweetened Honey Waffles.

Details of the four limited-edition cereals have not been released but are due to be launched during the next 12 months to build on the success of last year's Banana Puffs the brand's first limited edition, which made a comeback in Asda earlier this month.

Read more
Big Bear and Honey Monster plan to go public (18 January 2010)
Acid Test: Monster Rocks (23 May 2009)
The Honey Monster takes up the health message with Rocks (9 May 2009)