Breakfast Cereal Market: Global Trends

Explore how the global breakfast cereal market is developing

May 10, 2024 –  Discover the latest trends and insights shaping the global breakfast cereal market. Our 360 research provides valuable information on market size, consumer behavior, product innovation, and key players. Stay ahead of the curve and make informed decisions to drive growth and success in the dynamic breakfast cereal industry.

A Consistently Growing Market

Both sales and volume in the breakfast cereal market have been steadily increasing over the past five years. Ireland is the top country for breakfast cereal consumption per capita. The United Kingdom and Canada follow as other strong regions for per capita consumption. The US represents the largest breakfast cereal market for sales, with almost double the sales of the next largest country, the UK. Brands should keep watch on Asia, as it is a growing region for both value and volume in the cereal category, seen most in Japan and India.

Company and Brand Activity

Kellogg is the top product launcher for cold cereal, followed by Nestlé General Mills, and General Mills. PepsiCo is the top hot cereal product launcher, followed by Dr Oetker and Aldi.

Kellogg manufactures an assortment of snacks, such as crackers, savory snacks, toaster pastries, cereal bars, granola bars and bites; and convenience foods, such as ready-to-eat cereals, frozen waffles, veggie foods, and noodles. In 2023, the company split into two, with Kellanova focusing on snacks and the Special K cereal brand globally, while WK Kellogg Co carried on its well-known cereal brands in North America. These include All Bran, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Froot Loops, and Kashi. In early 2024, WK Kellogg Co launched a new brand, Eat Your Mouth Off, a puff cereal with 22 grams of protein and 0 grams of protein per bowl. This cereal is marketed towards Millennials and Gen Z, with their interest in healthy alternatives to indulgent treats, and focus on protein.

General Mills is another global leader in cereal production. The brand’s innovation strategy is mainly focused on healthy options, organic, sustainable sources, and practices, and commitment to its “food for a purpose” initiative. A large portion of this initiative involves pushing for regenerative farming practices. Top brands under the company include Cheerios, Chex Cereal, Cascadian Farm, Cinnamon Toast, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charm, Kix, Wheaties, Golden Graham, Annie’s Homegrown, and Crunch.

Breakfast Cereal Market

Breakfast Cereal Consumer Insights

Cornflakes and oats/oat porridge is the cereal subcategory with the highest global penetration, driven most by Ireland, South Africa, and Nigeria. Bran cereal, muesli, and wheat flakes should be watched for growth opportunities. When analyzing by generation, Gen Z and Millennials purchase sweet cereals most, while Boomers tend to choose bran cereal, oats and oat porridge, and muesli.

Muesli, oats and oat porridge, and bran cereal are consumed the most frequently, with over 70% of cereal-eating consumers stating that they eat these products once a week. The supermarket is by far the most common place of purchase for cereals, followed by convenience stores, specialist stores, and online. As for time of day, breakfast is unsurprisingly the most common moment of cereal consumption.

Over the past year, more consumers have increased than decreased their cereal consumption. Countries leading the increase are India, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Health is the primary driver for increasing cereal consumption, chosen by over half of consumers, while budget changes and taste preferences drive decreasing consumption. Flavor, cost, and health aspects are the most important attributes consumers look for when purchasing cereal.

Claims of high in/source of fiber, made with real ingredients, low/no/reduced sugar, and high in/source of protein are the most influential claims driving purchases in the breakfast cereal market. Looking to popular flavors, fruit, nuts, honey, and almond are the most preferred.

New Breakfast Cereal Launch Trends

Total breakfast cereal launches grew in the past five years, driven by cold cereal launches. West Europe and Asia account for half of new breakfast cereal launches, with East Europe and Africa showcasing the most growth in the past five years.

Recyclable packaging claims are common on cold cereal, and ethical environment related claims surged on new launches in the past five years. Other claims that saw growth include no additives/preservatives, palm oil free, no added sugar, high/source of fiber, high/source of protein, and vitamin/mineral fortified. In hot cereal, health claims such as high/source of fiber and high/source of protein saw substantial increases, as well as no added sugar.

Oat and wheat ingredients demonstrated growth in cold cereal launches, and peanuts are emerging. In hot cereal, oats are by far the fastest growing ingredient, and hemp seeds are emerging. Indulgent chocolate and fruit flavors have seen the most growth in both cold and hot cereal. In hot cereal, banana has emerged as a flavor growing in popularity.

What’s Next in the Global Breakfast Cereal Market?

Active health and environmental sustainability claims are growing in the breakfast cereal market, as well as linked claims such as palm oil-free for cold cereal, and plant-based for hot cereal. Brands should continue to invest into these claims, while also leveraging cereal’s protein and functional benefits and linking them to environmental wellbeing.

Flavor is a strong purchase driver for consumers, with chocolate and fruit flavors dominating both cold and hot cereals. Texture also remains an important integrated feature. Companies can investigate new combinations of flavors, textures, and less common fruits in cereal, such as banana or mango in their product innovation process.


This article is based on our report, “Morning Crunch: Navigating Global Breakfast Cereal Trends.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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