Top 10 US cereal brands: Winners and losers in first half of 2016

By Vince Bamford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Which cereal brands can claim victory in first half of 2016? Pic: © iAStock/inarik
Which cereal brands can claim victory in first half of 2016? Pic: © iAStock/inarik

Related tags: Chicago-based market research, Market research firm, General mills, Breakfast cereal, Iri

General Mills – which made some bullish comments about its breakfast cereals business earlier this year – has outperformed major rivals in the first half of 2016.

Total sales for the General Mills cereals portfolio fell 0.6% by value and rose 0.2% in unit terms compared with the same period a year ago, according to IRI data for the calendar year to July 10.

It may not sound too impressive on the face of it, but its respectable in an overall US cereals category down 1.6% by value on unit sales down 3.4%. Private-label products have accounted for a large spoonful of that decline.

General Mills has said its performance has been boosted by strong sales of gluten-free Cheerios – unit sales of the Honey Nut sub-brand are up 8% year on year, according to IRI – as well as the brands relaunched with no artificial ingredients in January.

So confident is the company in the cereals category, it seems, that it has recently rolled out Tiny Toast​, described as the manufacturer’s first new US cereal brand in 15 years.

Kellogg sales in line with market

Kellogg, meanwhile, is performing roughly in line with the overall category.

The company this month reported​ a decline in its Morning Goods segment – which includes its cereals – in the second quarter this year.

At the time, Kellogg chairman and chief executive officer John Bryant told analysts part of the company’s issue with topline growth was down to an industry-wide dynamic, while part was its exposure to “a shift in weight management trends that affected one of our biggest brands, Special K”.

Cold cereal brands

Year on year performance. Source: IRI year-today July 10, 2016 (Supermarkets, drugstores, mass-market retailers, gas/c-stores, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains)Note: data can be re-ordered by clicking on column headingIRI is a Chicago-based market research firm (@iriworldwide​)  

Our table of the top 10 biggest cold cereal brands shows core Special K in strong dollar growth, but this is partially offset by a decline in sales of Special K Red Berries, which sits in 14th​ place.

Honey Bunches owner Post is performing slightly better than the overall category in terms of value, but the company’s total unit sales have slumped 6% year on year despite a strong performance from the Pebbles brand, which sits just outside the top 10.

Announcing results for the third quarter​ of its financial year recently, Post said sales and volume growth for Malt-O-Meal and Pebbles had been partially offset by an anticipated drop in distribution in some of the MOM-branded lines it acquired last year.

Hot cereals market

And Malt-O-Meal has bucked the downward dollar sales trend in the overall hot cereal category – which has been driven by a 2.7% slump in sales of private-label products.

Quaker, which accounts for more than half the hot cereals market, has seen modest overall value and unit growth, according to IRI, following a mixed performance from its assorted sub-brands. Among its best performers were those tapping health trends, including the Lower Sugar and Protein ranges.

Hot cereal brands

Year on year performance. Source: IRI year-today July 10, 2016IRI is a Chicago-based market research firm (@iriworldwide​) 

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