Breakfast biscuit no super food

A new breakfast biscuit targeting those too busy to grab a morning meal has been criticised as too high in sugar and fat.

The belVita breakfast bikkie, launched this week by Kraft Foods, is the first such product in the biscuit category in supermarkets, the company said.

Kraft is targeting the 46 per cent of Kiwis who miss out on their morning meals at least once a week. A national breakfast survey conducted by the company in August found that of the 1000 18-49-year-olds surveyed, half skipped breakfast because there were disorganised.

While 42 per cent acknowledged that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, four out 10 people surveyed admitted choosing the speedier alternative of eating on the run.

Kraft said the biscuit was specially designed for breakfast and was aimed at those with hectic lifestyles.

The company is pitching the new product as nourishing when eaten as part of a balanced breakfast. The wholegrain biscuits provided a source of fibre and were low GI (the speed at which sugars are released into the bloodstream).

They were scientifically shown to offer four hours of sustained carbohydrate release when eaten with low fat milk, Kraft said.

But Elaine Rush, a professor of nutrition at Auckland University of Technology, said it was marketing hype without the evidence.

In a 50g serving - the equivalent of four biscuits - there were two to three teaspoons of sugar, she said.

Sanitarium's Weetbix still won hands down as an alternative breakfast. Rush describes the cereal as one of her "super foods".

Some Kiwis didn't have time to have breakfast, she conceded. "Something is better than nothing.

"[But] nutrition profiling of these shows that they all clearly achieve unhealthy status in the scoring."

The biscuits were high in energy, fat and sugar, and her profiling scored ranked it "considerably less healthy" than Weetbix particularly because of the saturated fats.

For those without time for a bowl of Weetbix, Sanitarium's Up & Go breakfast drink was a good alternative, Rush said. "That's the equivalent of two Weetbix and milk."

"I would say it's (belVita) a sometimes food, not an every day food and certainly not for the every day budget."

The biscuit's recommended retail price is $4.29 for 300g and $1.49 for 50g. Supermarket chain Countdown sells the 575g box of Weetbix for $6.29.

Another nutritionist, Ginny McArthur, said the GI of the five wholegrains "pulled down" the feed-out of sugar. "They also have a baking process which is really gentle which again helps to prevent the release of those sugars too quickly.

"You get a sustained release so you don't get that big blood sugar spike."

The carbohydrate level of 34g per serving was about the same as a serve of rolled oats (30g).

"It's easy to get caught up in the sugars and miss the benefit of the whole thing," McArthur said.

"I wouldn't replace breakfast with it but if I wasn't going to have time (for breakfast), I know these would keep me going until lunchtime."

Countdown's operator, Progressive Enterprises, and Foodstuffs, which has New World and PAK'nSAVE supermarkets, said the only other products which could be consumed on the go were top-selling Up & Go, and similar products Primo Extremo made by Fonterra Food Services and Hunger Buster from South Pacific Brands. Anchor also had Fast Start.

"Up & Go has proven to be very successful in the New Zealand market, as customers increasingly look for convenience foods that fit into their busy lifestyles," Foodstuff's Antoinette Shallue said.

Progressive's Luke Schepen said belVita was the first "real innovation" offered in the biscuit category. "There's nothing really like it."