- Cereal and milk have been companions on the breakfast table for decades, but as cereal companies find new eating occasions to promote for their brands, that relationship may weaken going forward.
- In June, General Mills will release a number of new cereal products that stray from the traditional box format and will instead come in single-serve pouches and snack bars that make cereal a more convenient meal or snack food on the go.
- "We’re trying to focus on formats that are increasingly snackable," Alan Cunningham, a senior marketing manager for General Mills cereal innovation, told Quartz. "The main aisle category will continue to evolve in a number of different ways with the presence of pouches. Certainly the ones without milk are more interesting to us."
Looking beyond breakfast has also been a recent strategy for other cereal companies. Late last year, Kellogg partnered with celebrity chefs to create exotic dish ideas that utilized its cereals as an ingredient to demonstrate the all-day eating potential cereal holds. Kellogg also announced new product lines like To Go Breakfast Mix, which is similar to General Mills' concept of single-serve, on-the-go pouches of cereal that don't require milk.
As seen at this year's Sweets and Snacks Expo, manufacturers may need to consider new twists on iconic categories and brands. These could include hybrids of a company's own products or partnerships with other companies to create new innovations. General Mills could combine multiple complementary brands of its own cereals in a single snack bar or partner with a confectioner like Hershey or Mars.
That twist could be disbanding a long-held partnership with milk, which itself has seen demand decline in recent years. Disassociating cereal with milk could make cereal seem more snackable and travel-friendly.
But there's one issue there: Loss of protein in the end-meal. Many cereal companies have made their protein claims based on consumers mixing the cereal with milk. It's a risk manufacturers could be wary to take, considering the protein trend has evolved into an industry standard. The decision could come down to weighing which trend matters more for category growth.