As the resident cereal investigator of The Takeout, I feel it is my duty to inform the public that we are all failing cereal. Kellogg’s recently announced that it will be splitting into three separate companies focused on cereals, snacks, and plant-based foods, reports the Associated Press. Part of the motivation behind the move to split the company is that in doing so the company will be able to focus efforts on each category to better increase sales.
The decline in cereal purchasing is an injustice I cannot allow, but before we get into why cereal needs to have a comeback, it’s best to understand where it all went wrong.
Why cereal sales are declining
Over the years it seems cereal has become less and less popular among consumers, with many opting for other, more portable breakfast options like breakfast bars. Back in 2016, the research firm IBISWorld estimated sales of cold and hot cereals to total $10.6 billion which was 17% less than the $12.7 billion achieved in 2009. The firm also predicted a steady decline all the way into 2020, and this prediction was fairly accurate.
In addition to concerns about cereal’s nutritional value, convenience and portability play a large role in why people have begun turning away from this classic breakfast option. Another research firm, Mintel Group LTd, surveyed consumers back in 2015 and found that 39% of millennials (ages 18 to 34) said cereal was inconvenient because you have to clean a dish afterward. They have a point, but we’ll get to that later.
Flash forward to 2021 and the big COVID quarantine puts just about every industry out of whack. However, this was good news for cereals because everyone was at home with much more time on their hands to pour a bowl. Unfortunately, the surge in cereal consumption did not last between recent inflation and people returning to work.
Why cereal needs to stay
As a kid, it’s one of the first meals you learn to make on your own. Pouring the cereal and milk into the bowl without making a big mess can be a challenge for small hands. Case in point, the movie Big Daddy with Adam Sandler. In the film, Julian, played by a young Cole Sprouse, tries to pour himself a bowl of cereal and winds up spilling a whole gallon of milk on the floor. To creatively solve this problem, Sandler’s character pours the milk into a lotion dispenser.
The whole cereal pouring experience is a way the characters bond and a way for the child to learn some life skills. It might seem like a lot of pressure to put on some cereal, but food has meaning for us all. Cereal has helped shape many childhoods and continues to stay with us into adulthood.
This idea that cereal is less convenient because you have to pour it in a bowl and then wash the bowl is a little too dramatic. Cereal is actually a reliable work breakfast because you can keep your designated bowl and milk at the office. The only item you’d have to take back and forth is the cereal itself if you tend to want something different each day, but the bright side there is that cereal is incredibly light. Plus, this may not be for everyone, but some cereal is pretty delicious as a dry snack to be eaten from a portable baggie.
People feed toddlers dry Honey Nut Cheerios all the time without a second thought, so why wouldn’t grown adults enjoy that same convenience on the go ? My point is cereal needs us now and we need cereal. Don’t let the cereal die.