Cereal Consumption Hurt By Grab-And-Go Foods

fromMR

Americans are consuming less cereal for breakfast, in part because of competition from restaurants. Americans are also seeking more protein for breakfast.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In other breakfast news, we are also eating a lot less cereal. Cereal consumption peaked in 1996. It has been declining ever since. Perhaps you know why if you're rushing off to work right now. Turns out cereal has, for many people, just become too time-consuming. Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF POURING CEREAL)

TRACY SAMILTON, BYLINE: That's right. This exhausting ritual - pouring cereal into a bowl, pouring the milk into the bowl, eating it - takes too much time.

HARRY BALZER: Never push against how lazy we can be.

SAMILTON: That's Harry Balzer. He studied Americans's eating habits for his consumer research company, NPD, since 1980. He says more and more people are just grabbing something on the go - a piece of fruit, a granola bar, a fast-food sandwich.

BALZER: But we keep looking for what's the most convenient way to take care of that 12 minutes that we have to eat in the morning time. And that's what we have, is 12 minutes to eat in the morning time. What's the easiest way to do that? And a bowl of cereal - you got to dirty a bowl. You got to dirty a spoon. You got to clean that stuff.

SAMILTON: Which means cereal sales these days are not great. When you ask Jim Hiller, CEO of Hiller's Markets, what else people are grabbing for breakfast, he takes you over to the yogurt section. It's huge. It's like Dannon and Yoplait had hundreds of other yogurt brand babies.

JIM HILLER: We have exotic yogurts. We have yogurts that are made from different types of milk. We have it made that are lactose-free. We have goat yogurts. I mean, the range of diversity in this kind of portable breakfast or portable food is extraordinary.

SAMILTON: It's not like cereal companies aren't noticing. One tactic they're are using is to try to piggyback on the trends. You want yogurt? Fine. Here's some yogurt with a little packet of Kellogg's Raisin Bran that you can mix in. Or, hey, look, cereal can be a healthy snack. Noelle Geoffroy is with Kellogg.

NOELLE GEOFFROY: We've got Special K advertising on air that talks about kind of night cravings and what a great option our Special K Chocolate Collection is for an evening snack that you can feel good about.

SAMILTON: General Mills is going with the trends, too. Most Chex brand cereals sport gluten-free in big letters on the box. There's a new high-protein Cheerios. The company's Jim Murphy says cereal clearly has to market itself better. But he's seen this before.

JIM MURPHY: Whether you point back to when bagels first came on the scene or when Atkins diets first appeared, we have periods where, you know, people change their eating habits at breakfast.

SAMILTON: And Murphy's an optimist. He says cereal may no longer be the most convenient breakfast food. But the cereal industry is still strong, and it will be there, poised to try to take advantage of the next big trend. Who knows? Maybe that one will be slowing down a little in the morning to appreciate the snap, crackle and pop. For NPR News, I'm Tracy Samilton.

GREENE: We are glad you're with us this morning listening on your public radio station to MORNING EDITION. A program fueled, at least in my case, by a breakfast of microwave egg whites and cheese, which, Steve, I think it only takes me about four minutes and 18 seconds to make.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How do you find the time to do that, David? Although, I admit I'm still able to find the time to open a cereal box and pour.

GREENE: And then you got to pour the milk.

INSKEEP: It sounds delicious. Send us your thoughts on that piece. You can find us on Twitter @NPRInskeep.

GREENE: And @NPRGreene.

INSKEEP: And @MorningEdition. This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.