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Cold cereals USA: The Top 10 brands in the first half of 2017

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Gill Hyslop

By Gill Hyslop+

03-Aug-2017
Last updated on 04-Aug-2017 at 14:11 GMT2017-08-04T14:11:24Z

Who are The Top 10 movers and the shakers of the US cold cereal market in the first half of 2017? Pic: ©iStock/Okea
Who are The Top 10 movers and the shakers of the US cold cereal market in the first half of 2017? Pic: ©iStock/Okea

A bowl of ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal isn’t just something to break the fast, but a genuine meal anytime of the day.  According to Mintel, almost half of the American public identify themselves as cereal consumers who embrace a bowl for lunch or dinner.

Americans purchased more than 3.1bn boxes of cereals for the year ending June 11, 2017, showed IRI data.

And while it could be hot, it’s more likely to be cold, reported the data gathered from US multi-outlet and C-stores over the period.

The hot cereal category contributed $1.2bn in sales to the US food market, while the RTE cold cereal segment garnered $8.6bn in sales, said IRI.

Yet, despite the healthy figures, the cereal industry is in decline. The market grew an almost static 2.25% from the year prior and market researchers predict this flat growth will continue over the next decade.

Times have changed

In recent years, we’ve seen a decline in dairy consumption with fewer households buying milk.

There’s been a turn away from carbs towards proteins.

It’s all about the sugar: the cereal industry being one of the biggest users of the ingredient in its products. Studies show that breakfast cereals have a 1:3 (one spoonful of sugar to three spoons of cereal) ratio.

And the competition is hot: cereals are vying against yogurts, energy and protein bars and toaster pastries, among others.

To counterbalance the decline, cereal makers are introducing a basket of healthier options, reducing sugar – especially in children’s cereals (after all, cold cereal primarily is a kid’s breakfast) and fortifying with protein and vitamins.

There are more organic cereals on the shelves today, as there are gluten-free and non-GMO options.

Cereal stars

The biggest stars on the RTE cold cereal front in the US are the movers and shakers that have adapted to consumer demand.

Kellogg’s is leading the pack with a 30.01% market share, followed closely by General Mills with 29.85. Post Holdings follows with a much lower 18.95%. The private label sector accounts for 7.48% and Quaker Oats Company with 6.4%.

Top 5 US cereal companies

Source: IRI 52w/e June 11, 2017. IRI is a Chicago-based market research firm (@iriworldwide)

RankingCompanySalesSales % Change YAMarket Share
1Kellogg Company$2.59bn-2.24%30.01%
2General Mills$2.58bn-3.93%29.85%
3Post Holdings$1.63bn1.41%18.92%
4Private Label$6.46m6.63%7.48%
5Quaker Oats$5.57m3.05%6.45%

The healthier breakfast trend is prevalent in IRI’s data, with Kellogg’s Honey Nut Cheerios, Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats and Kellogg’s Cheerios (made from whole grains and honey) in second, third and fifth positions on the top 10 US cold cereal brands leader board.

However, while healthier cereals are on the rise, there is an incongruity in the YA sales percentages.

Honey Nut Cheerios dipped 2.02% and Honey Bunches of Oats dropped 3.06% in dollar sales, while Cheerios saw a 3.6% growth from a year ago. The inconsistency was particularly apparent with sugary cereal brands, with Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes losing 2.33% in sales and sister brand Froot Loops seeing a 2.72% increase.

Top 10 US cold cereal brands

Source: IRI 52w/e June 11, 2017. IRI is a Chicago-based market research firm (@iriworldwide)

RankingBrandCompanyRetail SalesSales % Change YA
1Private Label$6.46m-6.63%
2Honey Nut CheeriosGeneral Mills$5.03m-2.02%
3Frosted FlakesKellogg Company$4.13m-2.33%
4Honey Bunches of OatsPost Holdings$3.98m-3.06%
5Cinnamon Toast CrunchGeneral Mills$3.70m1.82%
6CheeriosGeneral Mills$3.31m3.60%
7Froot LoopsKellogg Company$2.67m2.72%
8Lucky CharmsGeneral Mills$2.63m4.39%
9Frosted Mini WheatsKellogg Company$2.46m-5.81%
10Raisin BranKellogg Company$1.84m-4.22%

Where to from here?

Cold cereals may never recapture the prominence they once held, but the category still commands the top spot on the American breakfast menu.

But people’s eating habits continue to alter, so the landscape will continue to evolve.

Particularly as today is the era of eat-on-the-go and for both young and old sitting around a table to eat a bowl of cold cereal may seem old-fashioned.

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