- BelVita, a breakfast biscuit owned by Mondelez International, has doubled it's global annual sales since launching in the U.S. in 2012 and stolen market share from American cereal makers, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.
- When belVita launched in the U.S., it was able to capitalize on consumers' waning interest in breakfast cereals and demand for on-the-go options. Health and wellness claims, like slow-release carbohydrates that provide four hours of energy, also resonated with consumers.
- BelVita is now Mondelez's fifth best-selling brand in the U.S., recently surpassing Triscuit and Trident in annual sales.
BelVita, a European style breakfast biscuit developed in France, has captured the appetites and minds of American consumers. It came on the market in 2012, just as consumers were starting to rethink their morning bowl of cereal and milk. A combination of good timing and smart marketing has made belVita a leader in the breakfast space.
Changing consumer preferences and needs in the morning have been key contributing factors to belVita's success. People were already starting to trade their cereal bowls for granola bars, so the swap to a biscuit wasn’t too great. In addition, belVita offered health claims like slow-releasing carbs, which appealed to consumers more concerned about their health. Last, but not least, the European biscuit is an easy grab-and-go option, a quality important to more consumers racing out the door in the morning.
Cereal makers have had trouble countering the threat belVita brought to the breakfast table when it entered the U.S. market in 2012. By the time belVita was chipping away at their share of the breakfast plate, they started scrambling to offer alternatives.
Cereal giant Kellogg's launched a similar product under the Nutri-Grain label and General Mills did the same with its Nature Valley brand. Post Holdings and Quaker Oats have since also introduced breakfast biscuit options.
Mondelez, was smart to market it's newcomer product as a healthy alternative to breakfast cereal. Touting whole grains and fiber content, not to mention on-the-go convenience, helped belVita get consumers' attention.
Some nutritionists, though, are not on board with the health claims. The blueberry variety has 13 grams of sugar per serving, which is more than a bowl of Frosted Flakes. There perhaps is a good reason why it's sold in the cookie/cracker aisle of the supermarket.
Manufacturers can look at belVita as a lesson in the importance of knowing your customer.
BelVita's success is another affirmation that cereal isn't the breakfast powerhouse it used to be. From 2009 to 2016, cereal sales decreased 17%. In 2017, they fell a further 2.3%. This isn't the end of the road, but rather, a transition. More consumers now enjoy cereal as a treat or snack, rather than the way to start their day.