Monday, October 22, 2007

Cereal and bloggers

It's time again for a listing of significant blog postings and articles pertaining to cereal. Here are some from over the past few months that caught my attention:

FARK provides a collection of user generated photoshopped cereal boxes inspired by Kellogg's decision to stop marketing unhealthy cereals to children.

GeekLikeMe complains on the lazy marketing strategies that cereal companies have adopted. has an article calling for a rebellion against breakfast cereal supremacy. takes an irreverant look at the dark side behind popular cereal mascots.

The Columbia Basin Herald
features a column bemoaning the frustration of ripping the cereal bag in the morning.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rapid cereal growth in India

Cereal companies may be having problems in North America, but there are tremendous opportunities in emerging markets like in Asia. The Economic Times has a fascinating article on the breakfast cereal industry in India, where sales are increasing 30% per year.

But this new market is no guarantee of success for the big players. Kellogg faltered early on in India for not recognizing unique cultural preferences (e.g. they like cereal with warm milk). A local company gained ground by creating a cereal that didn't get soggy in warm milk, and therefore attracted consumers.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cereal boxes for education

No, not those General Mills points people collect.

According to The Business Review (Albany), the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering has partnered with Price Chopper Supermarkets to develop cereal boxes with information on nanotechnology printed on the box. It is hoped that middle- and high-school students will benefit from this.

OK, hardly exhilirating reading in the morning. But, why not? Since cereal has been traditionally marketed predominately by its packaging, maybe cereal companies (and even educators) could adapt this and think of other ways to rejuvenate this staple food and its place in our culture.

Besides, we might learn something.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shrinking boxes, growing profits

As previously reported, cereal companies have been shrinking cereal boxes in an effort to increase profits.

The strategy appears to be working, at least for now. General Mills latest financial results reveals that this strategy has increased profits during the last quarter. (See article at the

Corporations that short-sightedly look for short-term profits at the expense of long-term sustainability are playing a dangerous game. What will they do next time profits fall flat? You can only shrink the boxes so far. Eventually consumers will balk at the price of cereal, especially if there is not perceived value. Innovation could turn that around, but it doesn't appear that the big cereal companies are catching on to that.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

The challenges for cereal

As I've pointed out before, the cereal industry is facing many challenges. Major companies are facing tough competition and decreasing profits. and cereal consumption is declining in North America.

A recent article in Food Navigator-USA provides an interesting review of these challenges based on a recent market research report. Mintel identifies the challenges as "low brand loyalty, market saturation and increasing competition from other channels". The biggest challenge is increased competition from the foodservice industry. At least once a week 34% of consumers eat breakfast from a fast food restaurant. In other words, cereal is not as attractive of a convenience food as it once was. It may not be convenient enough. Obviously cereal manufacturers have been trying to address this through the introduction of cereal bars, etc. but even these do not appear to be reversing the current trends.

Another study from Research and Markets indicates only 52% of survey respondents cited cereal as their top breakfast choice. The suggestion is that "many consumers are simply 'bored' with the segment".

More reason why the future of breakfast cereal must step out of the ordinary and into the truly innovative.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Time for packaging innovation

For the second day in a row I am highlighting a cereal innovation from the U.K.

Jordans Cereals have introduced a new cereal bag that stands out for several reasons. First of all it breaks away from the cardboard box and liner approach found with most cereals. Second, it is a standing bag, and not the flimsy cellophane of bulk and discount cereals. Third, the packaging material itself is unique: recycled, recyclable, biodegradable and soon fully compostable. Finally, the packages look good!

I have long argued that the future of cereal will be shaped by those willing to innovate. The big cereal leaders, Kellogg and General Mills, seem to be more focused on short-term profits and brand extensions than truly creative innovations. Perhaps they need to look at European examples like Jordans and mymuesli to see more substantial breakthroughs.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Eatmecrunchy bowl

Occasionally I come across an interesting new kitchen item for cereal lovers. The latest is the Eatmecrunchy bowl, a uniquely-designed bowl for those who like their cereal crunchy.

The bowl has a shelf that holds the cereal above the milk, and a small section where the two actually mix. The bowl is from the United Kingdom, so I haven't tried it myself and it doesn't appear to be available in North America yet.

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