A new report on the U.S. morning eating occasion, particularly the breakfast cereal market, examines factors that are contributing to a decline in breakfast cereal consumption, and leading consumers to turn away from the cereal bowl in favor of other breakfast options.

In the report, titled “Cereal Killers: Five Trends Revolutionizing the American Breakfast,” Nicholas Fereday, Global Senior Analyst with Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, asks, “Is breakfast cereal, an American staple once characterized by strong innovation and competitive brand marketing, failing to meet the challenges of the 21st century consumer landscape?  Flat sales and declining volumes over the past decade indicate consumers are tiring of boxed cereals, lured away by more contemporary, aspirational, and convenient morning eating options in other grocery aisles or restaurants.”

(See 5 things moms get wrong at the grocery store)

5 Trends Revolutionizing American Breakfast

Rabobank identifies five trends – “cereal killers” – that are changing U.S. consumers’ breakfast habits:

1. “I’ll take that to go.”  Breakfast is the new eating-out occasion.  

2. “Snackfast.”  Consistent with trends across all eating occasions, the rising culture of snacking is transforming breakfast into “snackfast” as consumer seek convenience and portability.   

3. Beware of Greeks bearing yogurt!  Protein is the latest superfood promising satiety and weight management.


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4. The nutrition challenge.  As politicians and pundits weigh in on what to eat, the cereal industry struggles to find the balance between regulation and self-regulation without alienating consumers.  Consumers today are more interested in the nutritional profile of food than in past eras, and the cereal category has two hot-button issues – added sugars and marketing to children – which attract critics.

5. Boomers or bust?  With declining birth rates, the growth of a key cereal-eating demographic, children, is slowing. Who will be left to munch on cereal in the future?  If millennials are a lost cause, is it a case of Boomers or bust?