- After a short hiatus, Grape-Nuts will be back on grocery store shelves by mid-March, according to a press release from Post Consumer Brands.
- The 124-year-old cereal brand started to experience shortages last year due to issues with “a production process that isn’t easily replicated,” according to a statement provided to USA Today, as well as higher demand for cereal during the pandemic. In Post's first-quarter 2021 earnings call, Post Holdings CEO Robert V. Vitale also cited worker absenteeism related to COVID-19 at its Battle Creek, Michigan, plant.
- Since lockdown started almost a year ago, breakfast foods have seen a revival as consumers have more time to eat and hunger for healthier options and well-known brands.
Grape-Nuts are back.
“We promised our loyal fans that we would work hard to get Grape-Nuts back on store shelves as quickly as possible, and we are now committing to an earlier-than-anticipated return date," Kristin DeRock, Grape-Nuts brand manager at Post Consumer Brands, said in a statement. “We ramped up production and are running full swing 51 out of the next 55 days. We now expect to be back to healthy inventory levels by mid-March."
Along with reported production issues, huge demand growth seems to be a major culprit for this shortage. Cereal has been one of the early success stories of the pandemic after experiencing slumping sales for a few years in a row. Sales spiked this past spring as consumers searched for an affordable, easy breakfast option.
As Grape-Nuts became scarce, customers took to social media to voice their concerns. Last May, in Post's Facebook update about a related shortage in Grape-Nuts Flakes, several consumers shared their frustration in finding Grape-Nuts in grocery stores.
Post isn’t the only cereal maker to experience a demand-fueled shortage in the past few months. Kellogg's Frosted Flakes brand is currently experiencing difficulties keeping up as consumers continue to eat more breakfast foods as many stay-at-home orders are still in place, CEO Steve Cahillane said according to a transcript of the company's most recent earnings call.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the supply chains of categories beyond cereal. Bloomberg reported that Campbell Soup's Pepperidge Farms brand also experienced a cookie shortage in late 2020 due to labor shortages and increased demand. The company also cited hard-to-recreate technology as a reason for slower production.
But once manufacturers are able to get on top of supply-chain disruptions, they have plenty of opportunity to capitalize on changes in consumer behavior. The pandemic has encouraged more shoppers to keep their pantries stocked in case of emergency, even turning to unfamiliar brands to ensure they have food available. Consumers have also purchased more staple items, including cereal, when grocery shopping.
Meanwhile, despite the supply-chain issues, cereal's growth streak seems to have legs. In its most recent earnings call, Post reported that its legacy branded cereals in aggregate saw a 9% sales increase during first-quarter 2021, and Kellogg noted a 7% bump in cereal sales during its fiscal fourth quarter.