Major breakfast cereal manufacturers including General Mills, Post, and Kellogg’s, are returning to more sugary recipes in an attempt to boost falling sales, reports the Wall Street Journal. These changes come several years into an industry-wide transition toward healthier breakfast cereal options, including General Mills’ 2014 release of high-protein Cheerios and Kellogg’s 2011 release of reduced-sugar Frosted Flakes.
Breakfast cereal sales have declined 11 percent over the past five years according to research firm Mintel; as a result, several companies are abandoning these healthier changes. Post, for example, recently brought back Oreo Os, discontinued in 2007, and while General Mills had announced in 2015 that it would be removing all artificial colors and flavors from its cereals, following similar announcements from Kraft and Nestle, the company decided to return to artificially colored and flavored Trix last year after consumers complained about the duller colors in the more natural version of the breakfast cereal. General Mills also abandoned plans to remove synthetic dyes from Lucky Charms, releasing 10,000 boxes of all-marshmallow cereal last year and a new unicorn-shaped marshmallow this year.
These moves are also linked to a transition away from the traditional breakfast cereal demographic – children – to nostalgic Millennials, reports Food Dive. Millennials, writes the outlet, “have a significant amount of buying power but may be interested in more nostalgic food choices like the marshmallow cereals they grew up with.” Their interest in both nostalgic options and options perceived as exclusive may have contributed to Post's limited release of Chips Ahoy! and Nutter Butter breakfast cereals.
This strategy could also be linked to a trend of people opting to enjoy cereal as a snack or dessert rather than a breakfast item, according to Mintel, which found that 43 percent of adults eat cereal as a snack at home.
“Cereal is processed. It’s carbs,” John Owen, a senior food analyst at Mintel, tells the Wall Street Journal. “It’s not so healthy for breakfast, but it’s a permissible indulgence that seems not as bad as eating a traditional dessert.”
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