- General Mills is adding 16 mostly indulgent cereals and snack mixes to its lineup this month. And Kellogg is extending its Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes brands into grab-and-go cereal bars.
- General Mills' new items include Dunkaroos Cereal, Chocolate Strawberry Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Chocolate Churros, according to a press release sent to Food Dive. The company also has debuted a cereal line based on its Larabar fruit-and-nut bars in flavors such as Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie. And Remix Snacking Mixes each blend different cereals that might be enjoyed together in one package: a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Vanilla variety that blends that cereal with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros and Vanilla Chex; a Golden Grahams S'mores variety mixing the graham-inspired cereal with Cocoa Puffs and marshmallows; and a Chocolate Toast Crunch variety that blends that cereal with Vanilla Chex and caramel corn.
- Cereal companies have been working to reinvent themselves to combat shrinking sales in the category. This year, General Mills partnered with Hershey to launch five new cereals and Kellogg launched big format cereals as it steadily works to convert its breakfast brands into snacks.
Manufacturers are trying to sweeten the deal for customers shopping in the cereal aisle. What used to be a go-to breakfast option has now morphed into a snack choice, with out-of-the-box flavors and indulgent choices gaining popularity.
For years, analysts have predicted that the sugary phase of cereal won’t last. But even as the better-for-you trend thrives in other food segments, shoppers haven't always loved new reformulations that make signature cereals more healthy. As a result, cereal brands have turned toward permissible indulgence as a strategy to attract consumers. In 2019, General Mills launched cereals including Cinnamon Toast Crunch Churros, Fruity Lucky Charms and Chocolate Toast Crunch. Post launched Sour Patch Kids and cereals inspired by Hostess Donettes, Honey Buns and Twinkies. And Kellogg launched a cereals inspired by Peeps, as well as Caticorn, a unicorn cat cereal.
The indulgence trend promises to hold strong, with the pandemic giving renewed strength to consumption of sweet snacks. Cookie sales grew 6.6% for the 52 weeks ending Sept. 16, according to IRI data. Chocolate sales jumped 5.5% between March and September, according to data from the National Confectioners Association. Overall, snack food consumption has been on the rise, with consumers calling snacks a “lifeline” during the pandemic and 88% of adults saying they are snacking more now than prior to the outbreak.
Cereal manufacturers are targeting these snackers as their primary market. Earlier this year, Kellogg cited a statistic from a 2019 Burke Landmark Eating Occasions Study showing 30% of cereal is already eaten outside of breakfast. And the number of consumers who are incorporating snacking into their lives is growing. Snacking has surged in the U.S. as an all-day practice in recent years — and sometimes even replaces meals, an Innova Market Insights report found. Now, thanks to the pandemic, snacking is not only a meal replacement but also a source of comfort.
Mondelez International found in its second State of Snacking report that comfort is the No. 1 driver for snacking choices, with consumers favoring nostalgic childhood brands. The new launches from General Mills and Kellogg are aimed in large part at millennials looking to relive their childhood, with most adding a new sweet variety to cereals or snacks they remember from years past.
While cereal manufacturers have long targeted millennials looking for a indulgent snack, the portability of their offering had been limited to cup-size packages ubiquitous in convenience stores and foodservice. General Mills first began playing with new portable formats with its Milk 'n Cereal bar line, and Kellogg extended its Special K and Rice Krispies brands into bars and then explored big-size bites with its Jumbo Snax. Now, the evolution continues as companies reformat cereal to be even more snack-friendly. The move is also timely: These new individually wrapped packages could have even greater appeal during the pandemic among consumers concerned about contamination.
These launches capitalize on the snacking category's current momentum. If these cereal giants are successful in turning around years of soggy sales, more companies may take a similar approach.