The cereal saga
Loved or left out in the cold?

They have remained America’s default breakfast food for as long as we can remember. Cereal, coming in all shapes, sizes, and colors has been a central part of American culture, much like football and hip-hop. Where else will you find supermarkets with rows of shelves dedicated to cereal? Chances are, you will find a box or two of them if you walk into your kitchen right now. That’s how essential they have become.

Yet, despite their popularity, cereals seem to be having a bit of a soggy time, as health and lifestyle increasingly set a new precedent. Given these changing trends, how eagerly are Americans reaching out for that bowl of crunchiness? Piplsay (powered by Market Cube) finds out*:

Digging into a bowl of cereal has been a crucial part of our lifestyles growing up. Even nostalgic, as we rummaged through the boxes for toys, stickers, games and other surprises. But our love for cereal seems to be fading as only about 50% of adult Americans today eat it on a regular basis. Among the rest, a good 28% of them rarely or don’t consume cereals at all.

Interestingly, it’s not the health aspect, but the convenience of simply mixing cold milk and cereal that has most Americans reaching for their box of crunch

In fact, health seems to be a big reason why cereals are fast disappearing from our breakfast tables. Long considered as a well-rounded morning meal, cereals today are struggling to impress as Americans focus more on their diets and caloric intake. Brands, meanwhile, are trying their best to adapt to this changing trend, as can be seen from the growing varieties of ‘whole grain’, ‘all-natural’, and ‘organic’ cereals that are flooding the market. Moreover, it’s not just their own health that many adults seem to be worried about. Given that cereals marketed to children usually have about 30-40 percent more sugar than adult cereals, parents are also worried about their child’s innocent breakfast turning into dessert.

Still, it’s not just the health aspect that has been hurting the industry. Today’s on-the-go culture is fast making sit-down breakfast a thing of the past. Millennials, in particular, are increasingly opting for foods like yogurt, sandwiches, fruits, and breakfast bars, that are not only easy to carry but are nutritious as well. On the other hand, coffee and fast-food joints are also busy whipping up breakfast menus to cater to changing tastebuds, and the growing demand for variety.

Among brands, General Mills continues to be the cereal king, with three of its brands making it to the top 5. Despite flagging sales across the industry, the brand’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch remains one of the few products that continues to generate good sales. It’s all hearts for Cheerios as well as it is the second favorite cereal in the list; its honey nut flavor sweetening the deal. Kellogg, the largest cereal company in the US, seems to have fallen behind a little but is nevertheless popular with Tony the Tiger roaring strong at number 3. In fact, just four companies (all part of the list) - General Mills, Kellogg, Post Holdings, and Quaker Foods collectively account for more than 80% of the market share in the country. But despite their dominance, business is suffering.

Overall, cereal sales in the US have declined by 9% since 2012, with cold cereals taking the worst hit. But while it may look like America’s once-favorite breakfast has lost its charm, the reality may not be all that bad. After all, there are still about 50% of Americans who simply refuse to leave Toucan Sam, Captain Crunch or Lucky the Leprechaun behind. Not forgetting the growing number of healthier and portable cereal brands that are slowly trying to lure their consumers back.

*Based on 71,000 online responses

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