Breakfast cereals are something of a staple food in North America, with 60% of households saying they are a regular part of their grocery basket. However, times have never been more challenging for these core products as competition for the breakfast dollar has intensified considerably over the past decade or so.

According to a new report from Innova Market Insights, which assesses cereal trends in the US and Canada, there has been polarization between healthy and indulgent products in recent years. This is evident in flavor trends such as with launches containing turmeric rising at a CAGR of 50% over 2014-2019, while those containing marshmallows increased at a CAGR of 104%.

The focus for brands in these two areas is also very different: new healthier products – particularly wholegrain granolas – are increasingly supported by messages related to sustainable/organic sourcing, artisanal production, and plant-based formulation, while more indulgent cereals tend to concentrate on their sweet ingredients in order to occupy a taste-driven platform. “There has also been some indulgent brand extension into this market,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Insights & Innovation at Innova, “with the Dunkin’ donuts and Hershey’s Kisses candy brands both having arrived on the breakfast scene within the past year.”

Meanwhile, with over 40% of American and Canadian consumers saying that convenience is a reason why they buy breakfast cereals, there is ongoing pressure to deliver ever more convenient formats. Snackability is a growing focus, as over 10% of consumers now claim to eat breakfast cereals as either a morning or evening snack. There has been interest in single-portion pots or bags that can better target out-of-home snacking occasions. On-the-move snacking may have stalled a little during the coronavirus crisis. However, it is still the case that higher levels of home working have opened up new snacking opportunities for cereals that could persist into the years ahead.