“Overall, the cereal category faced another years of sales declines mainly as a result of increasing competition from other convenient and nutritious foods. The category’s sweet spot, the hot cereal segment, has increased, albeit minimally, but helps balance the category overall. The question remains, will innovative packaging and marketing, and improved nutritional profiles be enough to turn around category sales?”
- Amanda Topper, Food Analyst
This report answers the following questions:
- How can the category reverse declining sales?
- What types of cereals do consumers want?
- How can packaging innovation address consumer needs?
The $11 billion cereal category declined 5% from 2009-14 despite a high household penetration rate.
The cold cereal segment, which represents 87% of category sales, continues to decline as a result of competition from other convenient, nutrient-rich foods, such as yogurt, fruit, and breakfast sandwiches. In contrast, interest in the health benefits of hot cereal, especially oatmeal, have led to a 6% increase in the segment from 2012-14.
Packaging and product innovation, including snack-size packs, and protein- and fiber-rich cereals, aim to help turn around declining sales. Additionally, a focus on consumption occasions beyond breakfast, including as a snack or late night indulgence, present areas of opportunity for the category.
Mintel here provides a comprehensive analysis of the following factors that have the greatest potential to impact the category’s performance:
- Reasons for the declining cold cereal segment, including interest in hot cereal, and competition from foodservice options and other breakfast food options
- How the market is broadening and how future growth will hinge on growing interest in snacking/on-the-go eating, positive health perceptions of the hot cereal segment, and interest in products with better-for-you attributes (eg fiber, protein, superfoods)
- How both hot and cold cereal segments have been performing in recent years, and how they are expected to perform in the near term.
Challenges to the market (including interest in health, and expansion of QSR/grab-and-go) and how manufacturers and retailers can position products to confront them Attitudes and behaviors of breakfast cereal consumers, including reasons for consuming more or less cereal, cereal preferences related to nutrition, function, packaging and more.
For the purposes of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:
- RTE (ready-to-eat) cold cereal is any cereal (eg, corn flakes, shredded wheat, toasted oat cereal) that is usually consumed dry or with dairy/non-dairy milk.
- Hot cereal is defined as cereal that must be cooked (on the stovetop or in the microwave oven) before eating, including oatmeal, instant oatmeal, hot wheat, and other grain products.
- Cereal bars and other breakfast products, such as Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, are excluded from the scope of this report, but their importance to overall demand for breakfast cereal is discussed where appropriate.