US consumers are looking for energy-dense hot cereals that provide a full serving of fruit or veg, according to FONA International.
The flavor and NPD Consultancy Group surveyed 350 Americans online - the majority aged between 35 and 44 - on preferences for warm breakfast cereals. Hot cereals accounted for 12% of the overall US breakfast cereal market in 2013, according to earlier research from Mintel. For the 52-week period ending May 19, 2013, hot cereals pulled in sales of $1.2bn - up 4%.
Findings showed the biggest priority for consumers was finding a convenient, hot cereal that provided a full serving of fruit and/or vegetables.
Pamela Oscarson, market and consumer insights lead at FONA International, said consumers were looking for a wholesome start to the day. “It’s often very hard to get a full serving of fruit and/or veg in,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
Ranked second was a desire to find a hot cereal that could give consumers a natural and healthy energy boost.
“Think about the amount of caffeine that is consumed in the morning; consumers just want to take more of a natural route and finding energy,” Oscarson said. “Something to start your day with that’s healthy and carries you through lunch is probably a very important factor.”
Satiety was listed as a top nutritional priority, followed by sustained energy and antioxidants.
These sorts of findings were crucial for breakfast cereal makers looking to develop new products in a saturated market that already had plenty of product choice, she said.
The survey also showed the top five preferred cereal add-ins were strawberries, blueberries, bananas, nuts and brown sugar. The mouthfeel of these ingredients was also important, with creaminess or crunch preferred.
What’s already out there?
FONA International collated research from Mintel GNPD into what was already trending in North America’s hot cereal market.
Fruit, spice and berry fruit were identified as the top flavor sub-categories in hot cereal, with the most popular individual flavors maple, cinnamon and apple. Nut flavors were among the top-growing flavors with pecan, almond and walnut growing 50%, 40% and 33% respectively.
The top on-pack claim in 2013 was microwaveable, according to Mintel GNPD, with kosher and whole grain tied in second. The largest-growing hot cereal claim was GMO-free - up 800% between 2012 and 2013.