Fussy millennials shunning cold breakfast cereal

Millennials are no longer following their noses to a box of cereal in the morning, and that's slowly starving the breakfast cereal industry, according to a new report.

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An article published in the New York Times this week suggests young people are largely responsible for a decline in cold breakfast cereal sales. Instead, millennials are embracing hot cereal, yogurts, breakfast sandwiches and smoothies as the new breakfast of champions, according to marketing experts.

The New York Times article cites a marked decline in cereal sales in the United States, from US$13.9 billion in 2000 to $10 billion last year. A similar decline has occurred in Canada, according to Statistics Canada. Canadians spent 22 per cent less on cereal in 2014 than they did in 2010, according to an annual average compiled by StatsCan. The cost of cereal also rose by an average of 7.8 per cent over that time.

"Almost 40 per cent of the millennials surveyed by (market researcher) Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it," the New York Times article says.

It goes on to suggest that marketers are still searching for ways to capture the attention of the elusive millennials, who couldn't be bothered to wash out a bowl of lukewarm milk and Shreddies bits.

Market research experts at Mintel say the breakfast food industry is losing some its snap, crackle and pop because of a drop-off in the popularity of cold cereals. In an August 2015 report on American breakfast cereals, Mintel said consumers are shunning cold cereals because they believe them to be "too processed and not convenient enough."

The company suggests manufacturers should focus their efforts on healthier, more natural alternatives that are easier to prepare, rather than pushing "magically delicious," (i.e. sugary) processed products. Mintel also recommends cereal brands double down on the nostalgia factor, as that continues to drive sales among the baby boomer generation.

Several long-standing cereal brands have already gone that route with their packaging and marketing. Last year, for instance, General Mills announced a line of throwback cereal boxes, featuring old-fashioned cartoon mascots from the 1970s and '80s. The boxes resurrected mascots for Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Honey Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms.

Cereal manufacturers have also started to promote cereals with a more home-spun, all-natural, nutritional image. General Mills, for instance, announced a brand called Annie's Homegrown Organic Cereals earlier this month.

These bunnies will start hopping to the cereal aisle in April! https://t.co/PjSWqJtPFS@annieshomegrown#cerealpic.twitter.com/YawgOSzbg3

— General Mills (@GeneralMills) February 16, 2016

Other cereal brands have also tried to promote a nutritious image.

It's #HeartHealthMonth. When you eat Cheerios, you do your heart some good: https://t.co/U7xCKh3fy2pic.twitter.com/3b820UJqse

— Cheerios (@cheerios) February 6, 2016

Kellogg's acknowledged the New York Times article in a tweet on Thursday. "Look out, millennials!" the company tweeted. "We're reimagining cereal with new flavours and unique ingredients #StirUpBreakfast."


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