General Mills finds more families report eating breakfast together

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / jacoblund
©GettyImages / jacoblund

Related tags General mills Cereal Breakfast

Three quarters of families with school-aged children now report being able to spend more time together eating at the breakfast table, promoting an uptick in cereal consumption, according to a new survey commissioned by General Mills Big G cereals.

The survey was conducted online (fielded from June 23 – July 5) and gathered responses from 1,003 US consumers (18 years of age and older) who are the parent or guardian of at least one child aged 5-18 who lives in the same household.

Prior to the pandemic, 70% of parents surveyed cited the biggest morning challenge was to sit down and have breakfast as a family. Today, 48% say it’s still a challenge.

According to parents surveyed by General Mills, 55% reported that cereal was their kids’ top choice for breakfast and more families are reporting eating cereal over the last several months.

Cereal sales rebound

Photo Credit: General Mills

After several years of slow growth, cereal sales have grown 11.8% to $5.4bn through the week ending July 25, compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen sales data. 

In Q4 2020, General Mills saw 26% growth in its US cereal business. Its Cheerios franchise led much of the growth, increasing retail sales in the fourth quarter driven by the success of its Heart Health messaging campaign and limited edition heart-shaped cereal, said General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening during a Q4 earnings call to investors in late June.

Nutrition opportunities for cereal

“When it comes to breakfast, it’s hard to beat all the nutrition packed into one bowl of cereal for about 50 cents on average, with milk,”​ said Amy Cohn, RD, senior manager of nutrition and external affairs for General Mills' cereal division.

The survey found that families who eat breakfast together are 54% more likely to say their children have a well-rounded diet.

Cereal also checks the boxes for what many parents want in a breakfast food: something that suits their child’s taste preferences (89%), is easy and convenient (85%), and contains key vitamin and minerals (82%).

Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of folate, iron, zinc, vitamins A and E, and several B vitamins for Americans at breakfast, according to national health and nutrition consumption data, according to CDC research data. Despite this, parents in the survey identified fiber and whole grain as nutrients their kids were least likely to get enough of in their diets highlighting an opportunity for cereal brands to better communicate the nutritional attributes of their products.

Future forecast on cereal

But will cereal’s appeal last past the pandemic when on-the-go routines kick back up again?

According to parents surveyed, 61% said they hope to keep some of the changes the pandemic has brought to their morning routines such as pouring a bowl of cereal with their families.

“Even in a challenging time, families are taking heart in the extra moments they have to share with their kids,” ​said Cohn.

“Cereal is a common denominator. While we know the school year may look different this fall, parents and kids can count on cereal to keep bringing them around the table together and helping to fuel their day.”

From a company performance standpoint, prior to the pandemic General Mills was experiencing market share gains in the cereal category and had three of the top five new products in the category last year, noted Jonathon J. Nudi, General Mills group president, North America retail in the company’s Q4 2020 earnings call.

“We feel good about the category. We feel good about our performance, and we think we'll continue to grow nicely in fiscal '21.”

FOOD FOR KIDS 2020 virtual summit

Which meals do parents find the most challenging when it comes to finding something that's easy, affordable, healthy, AND appealing to feed to their kids? Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Find out what parents have to say during WEEK 1 of the FOOD FOR KIDS virtual summit​ on Oct. 21st when we'll kick off the online event series with a lively consumer panel discussion! Register your interest in tuning in HERE​.

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