Cereal loses its snap, crackle, pop with consumers

Canada’s appetite for sweet, ready-to-eat cereal has gone stale, and the breakfast food industry has been starving for sales as shoppers abandon the morning staple.
Cold cereal sales have been on the decline since the early 1990's.

Canada's appetite for sweet, ready-to-eat cereal has gone stale, and the breakfast food industry has been starving for sales as shoppers abandon the morning staple.

As a morning show, Edmonton AM is inherently invested in all things breakfast, and asked its listeners and two local food writers to weigh in on the trend.

"Sugary cereal are kind of on the down and out," blogger Liv Vors said during a Monday morning interview on the CBC radio show. 

"It's kind of sad. I remember my generation's kind of ritualistic relationship with breakfast cereal, and Saturday morning cartoons. For me, the two are very inextricably linked. It reminds me of my childhood."

Vors isn't the first food watcher to suggest that a generational shift is to blame for changing appetites.

A New York Times report blamed millennials, saying that younger consumers aren't as nostalgic about their first meal of the day, and have been snubbing breakfast cereal because the task of pouring milk into a bowl, and rinsing out afterward is just too laborious.

No, we're not on a sugar high.  

A survey by global research firm Mintel, found that 40 per cent of of respondents consider cereal too "inconvenient to consume."

Edmonton AM's Garrette McGowan with a coveted bowl of Fruit Loops. (CBC Edmonton )
Whether it's the logistical strain of lifting a spoonful of Cinnamon Toast Crunch each morning,  or something else altogether, it's clear that fewer people are reaching for the box.

Canadians spent 22 percent less on cereal in 2014 than they did in 2010, according to Statistics Canada, and its popularity has been slowly fading since the early 1990s.

South of the border, sales, which hit $13.9 billion in 2000, slumped last year to about $10 billion.

Edmonton food writer Liane Faulder doesn't believe that laziness is to blame for the decline in cereal sales, but says consumers are hungry for healthier breakfast options.

She suggests that brands like Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs could find themselves out of grocery stores as cereal manufacturers promise to produce breakfast foods with less sugar and fewer artificial colours.

"There's a tendency to say that everything that happened in the past was better, but I say good riddance to sugary cereal. Sugary cereal is bad for you, " said Faulder.

"Good riddance to bad rubbish."

But that argument wasn't easy to swallow for Lors who believes in the old adage, 'everything in moderation, including moderation.'

"I certainly don't start my day with chocolate and marshmallows anymore, but I like to have a bowl of cereal every once and awhile," said Lors through a mouthful of Fruit Loops.

"It doesn't need to be a totalitarian regime — whole grains and dried fruits and God knows what else."

What do you think? Have you ditched breakfast cereal in favour of something less laborious, or healthy? Let us know in the comments section below, or join on the conversation on Twitter


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