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Cereal: a snacking staple

While it has long maintained a seat at the kitchen table, it seems cereal may be moving beyond breakfast and even beyond the bowl, with new figures showing that 43% of US cereal consumers eat it as a snack at home.

According to latest research by Mintel, snacking now ranks as the second most common reason to consume cereal, aside from breakfast (89%). What’s more, almost one in five (17%) say they have cereal as a snack away from home and 10% enjoy cereal on the go.

Younger generations are leading the revolution when it comes to snacking on cereal. More than half (56%) of millennials (aged 23-40) say they have eaten cereal as a snack at home, compared to just 32% of baby boomers (aged 53-71). The iGeneration (aged 18-22), meanwhile, are the most likely cohort (21%) to enjoy cereal on the go.

While it’s hard to deny cereal’s ‘snackability’ gone are the days of bland, flavourless options as many view cereal as a way to indulge in a guilt-free treat (49%). With just 14% of cereal consumers saying they buy single-serving varieties, packaging innovation may be a key opportunity as two in five (40%) agree that cereals should be more portable.

“While breakfast is the most common occasion for eating cereal and nearly universal across age groups, snacking on cereal may offer greater potential for reinvigorating category growth, especially among younger adults,” says John Owen, senior food and drink analyst at Mintel. “Considering how popular snacking is among millennials, there could be an opportunity to increase snacking and on the go consumption of cereal among younger generations.”

Despite the fact that three in 10 (29%) cereal consumers say they are eating less heavily-sweetened cereals, the same amount (30%) are choosing cereal that tastes good regardless of how nutritious it is. Indeed, when it comes to selecting cereals, consumers consult their taste buds first as taste is the most important factor consumers consider for both cold (80%) and hot (77%) cereal, the research reveals.

So not only do packaging suppliers have an opportunity to capitalise on this trend, but so too do cereal/snack manufacturers to make their products as tasty as possible.

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