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Cereal Gets Serious

A recent New York Times article examined the past, present and future of breakfast cereal as consumers shift away from cold, sugary carbs in the morning and toward heartier, high-protein, energy-packed options. While boomers and Gen Y generations cling to cereal for comfort and nostalgia, they are eating it more as a snack than a meal. Meanwhile, millennials see many barriers to cereal consumption—it’s not portable, it’s not filling and it’s just too much work, according to Mintel surveys showing “almost 40 percent said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.”

Cereal companies are taking note, and some are emphasizing their brands as an ingredient in chef-created recipes. New York City pastry Chef Christina Tosi, who founded the city’s Milk Bar cafes, is making a splash with her cereal-infused ice cream. Kellogg’s has partnered with Chef Danny Bowien of San Francisco’s Mission Chinese Food to push the boundary on how cereal can be enjoyed. One of his ideas, for example, pairs cornflakes with tofu, bacon-infused soy milk, and lime.

“The driving force behind the [Stir It Up] campaign is to make cereal interesting again by demonstrating the inherent versatility of cereal through culinary inspiration and flavor experimentation—a leading trend with consumers,” notes Andy Shripka, associate director Kellogg’s brand marketing. “Through our partnerships with top chefs and food influencers, we’re incorporating unique food perspectives and hot trends like matcha [tea] and customization.”

Are young, hip chefs enough to save cereal for generations to come? Paul Darrow, director of innovation and insights at Kellogg’s, sees other growth potential in breakfast-all-day trends and portability.

“Portability is extremely important to the breakfast daypart. While most breakfasts are made at home, a high percentage of these meals are taken and eaten on the go,” says Darrow. “Additionally, once people leave their house, they often have additional mini-meals while doing other tasks that keep them going throughout the morning. Catering to these on-the-go behaviors is a big opportunity for additional sales in both grocery and restaurant settings.”

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • Nostalgic cereal brands as toppings for customized hot cereal options
  • Cereal as a crunchy protein coating or dessert ingredient
  • Popular cereal bars in the grocerant for convenient add-on sales
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