Rabobank: Breakfast Cereal Makers Need to ‘Think Beyond the Bowl’ to Remain Relevant

Rabobank Report: Cereal killers – five trends revolutionizing the American breakfast

Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day, but in the US, the battle over what to eat and where has never been greater. According to a new report from Rabobank, consumers are increasingly overlooking the cereal bowl in favour of other options. Five key trends are behind this American breakfast revolution. Despite the challenge from alternative options, Rabobank believes there is still strong potential for the US cereal market. The report explores various strategies open to breakfast cereal companies including methods to tempt back breakfast skippers, renewing focus on innovation and reframing the message to consumers.

Nicholas Fereday, Rabobank analyst commented: “Flat sales and declining volumes over the past decade indicate consumers are tiring of boxed cereals. They are being lured away by more contemporary, aspirational, and convenient morning eating options in other grocery aisles or restaurants. It will be interesting to see whether these trends emerge in the other breakfast cereal markets particularly the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.”

Five Trends Revolutionizing the American Breakfast

Rabobank identifies five trends – “cereal killers” – that are changing consumers’ breakfast habits:

1) “I’ll take that to go.” Breakfast is the new eating-out occasion.

2) “Snackfast.” Consistent with trends across all eating occasions, the rising culture of snacking is transforming breakfast into “snackfast” as consumers seek convenience and portability.

3) Beware of Greeks bearing yogurt! Protein is the latest superfood promising satiety and weight management.

4) The nutrition challenge. As politicians and pundits weigh in on what to eat, the cereal industry struggles to find the balance between regulation and self-regulation without alienating consumers. Consumers today are more interested in the nutritional profile of food and the cereal category has two major issues – added sugars and marketing to children – which attract critics.

5) Boomers or bust? With declining birth rates, the growth of a key cereal-eating demographic, children, is slowing. Who will be left to munch on cereal in the future? If millennials are a lost cause, is it a case of Boomers or bust?

Despite these trends there is continued strong potential in the U.S. breakfast cereal market. 

Fereday concludes: “We believe that breakfast cereals can aspire to more than single-digit growth and erosion of market share. To turn the tide, we suggest a renewed focus on innovation, a rebooting of the message to consumers, and, for children’s cereal, an embrace of what you are, even if that means new positioning in a different grocery aisle.”

For more information about this publication, please contact its author, Nicholas Fereday:
nicholas.fereday@rabobank.com +1 212 916 3793

Alternatively, for other information, please contact Rabobank’s press office:
K.Verheul1@rn.rabobank.nl +31 30 21 66918

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