BREAKFAST cereal consumption is decreasing — dramatically — as consumers ditch their cereal bowls in favor of other breakfast options, according to a new report from Rabobank International.
In the report, "Cereal Killers: Five Trends Revolutionizing the American Breakfast," Nicholas Fereday said flat sales over the last 10 years (Figure) indicate that consumers are growing tired of boxed cereals and are being "lured away by more contemporary and convenient morning eating options in other grocery aisles or restaurants."
Fereday, global senior analyst in Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research group, identified five trends he refers to as "cereal killers" that are changing consumers' breakfast habits:
1. Breakfast is becoming an eating-out occasion.
2. Consistent with trends across all eating occasions, breakfast is turning into "snackfast" as consumers seek foods with convenience and portability.
3. Protein is a more promising "superfood" for satiety and weight management.
4. Consumers are becoming more attentive to nutrition, and the cereal industry has two big negatives: added sugars and marketing to children.
5. Given declining birth rates, growth in the key cereal-eating demographic — children — is slowing. "Who will be left to munch on cereal in the future?" Fereday asked.
Nevertheless, Fereday suggested that there is still "strong potential" for the breakfast cereal market and offered strategies for breakfast cereal companies to grow their business, including through a focus on innovation as well as a focus on cereal ingredients that embrace the concept that food "doesn't have to be a least-cost formulation."
Breakfast cereal pioneered marketing in the early age of mass media but is struggling "to find its voice and target consumers" in today's era of multimedia, according to the report.
Also, current consumer food trends do not necessarily play well for cereal as consumers move away from highly processed foods, according to the report.
Accordingly, cereal manufacturers "need to reboot their message" regarding the health and wellness positives and relevance of their products, the report suggests.
Rabobank International is a leading lender to the agribusiness and food industries in North America and is a division of Rabobank Group, a Dutch financial institution with banks in more than 40 countries.