- General Mills is launching five new cereals in 2020, including three that will be launched in the first quarter of the new year in collaboration with Hershey, according to Food Business News.
- The cereal manufacturer will release Hershey's Kisses cereal in the shape of the iconic chocolate drops with Hershey’s chocolate; Jolly Rancher cereal with colorful bites in grape, cherry, green apple, watermelon and blue raspberry flavors; and Reese's Puffs Big Puffs featuring oversized, peanut butter-flavored puffs.
- In addition to these, General Mills will partner with DreamWorks Pictures to launch Trix Trolls with Marshmallows, a new fruit-flavored cereal based on the upcoming "Trolls World Tour" film, and will release a new coconut almond Nature Valley granola flavor this month.
Fewer Americans are eating cold cereal with milk for breakfast today than in the past. Instead, consumers looking for healthier alternatives, more protein and more convenient on-the-go solutions have looked beyond the cereal bowl in their search for nutrition. And cereal manufacturers, including General Mills, have seen sales slip for several years. Overall cereal sales decreased 17% from 2009 to 2016. According to Mintel statistics reported by the Wall Street Journal, cold cereal sales are expected to fall an additional 5% between 2018 and 2023.
After trying their hand at better-for-you and health-focused alternatives, cereal manufacturers have turned to transforming this breakfast food into a sugary sweet, permissible indulgence. And some of the results have been positive. Post Consumer Brands resurrected its Oreo O's cereal in 2017. The company launched cereals like Sour Patch Kids and Hostess Donettes and Honey Buns last year, and Twinkies cereal started appearing on shelves last month. Post's North American ready-to-eat cereal business saw a 3.5% sales increase in its most recent quarter as it focused on indulgent cereals.
The new Hershey candy cereals aren't the only recent super-sweet innovations to come from General Mills' cereal division. In the last year, the company launched cereals including Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros, Fruity Lucky Charms and Chocolate Toast Crunch. Hershey and General Mills have also collaborated on cereals before, including Reese's Puffs, Hershey's Cookies and Creme Fillows Cereal and Cocoa Puffs made with Hershey’s chocolate, Food Business News reported.
Those moves could have helped the brand since sales for its U.S. cereal unit saw a 5% increase in its most recent quarter. And now the companies are adding even more options.
"We just decided that, hey, we need to innovate even more to get the cereal category back to its healthy, growing position," General Mills' Director of Marketing for Cereal Scott Baldwin told Food Dive last year.
This change in strategy toward a focus on treats could bring more consumers to the category in the short term, but may not be enough to turn the tide of popular opinion. Indulgent cereals are marketed in large part to millennials looking to relive the carefree moments of their childhood. And manufacturers are hoping that those who are parents will share these moments with their children to create a new generation of sugary cereal lovers.
Today's parents, however, find nutritional value to be the most important quality in food for their children, and six in 10 limit their sugar intake, according to a survey from BabyCenter Brand Labs Insight, which is part of Johnson & Johnson.. This dichotomy likely limits the expansion of sweet cereal sales.
General Mills seems to recognize that a one-size-fits-all strategy will not be effective in changing the category. As a result, the cereal giant is also releasing another Nature Valley option for consumers that are looking to be mindful of their health when it comes to their cereal choice.
Releasing a better-for-you cereal in tandem with more indulgent options shows General Mills is looking to develop a multi-pronged strategy and position itself to broadly boost its bottom line rather than piecemeal improvement. The success of this approach will be determined by consumer tastes. Although consumers are currently fond of indulgent options, they could return to a health-consciousness-first mindset. To try and mitigate that risk, General Mills could be wise to develop options that meet each of those needs separately.