Does Your Farm Host A 'Cereal Killer'?

Nor' east Thinkin'

A cereal killer is loose in many families, even in farm families.

Published on: April 26, 2013

I'm betting that you don't munch down Corn Flakes or Post Toasties for breakfast as much as you used to. So you or your family's chief food shopper may just might be a 'cereal killer".

As a farm kid, I grew up in the Corn Flakes era. And in my first Animal Science class at college, my animal nutrition professor said: "Breakfast is your most important meal. That's true for animals, too."

Too many of today's generation (farm and non farm) don't even eat breakfast. But that's a different "bad news" story still in the making.

What you, I and millions of other breakfast-munchers chew down is important. After all, breakfast is brain food for the day! My cupboard still is stocked with flakes plus cereal boxes more appealing to grandchildren.

But not everybody's breakfast is cereal-bowl bound. And today's fast-changing eating habits will ultimately affect the markets you grow food for.

A new study by Rabobank's Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory team confirms five consumer "cereal killer" trends. These eating trends have taken down U.S. boxed cereal sales about 1% per year for at least the last decade, says Rabobank Team Lead Nicholas Fereday.

'Beyond the bowl' trends

Consumers, according to Fereday, are increasingly looking beyond the cereal bowl for more engaging options. These five trends are revolutionizing what we eat for breakfast as well as the food products produced and possibly marketed on the farm:

  • "I'll take it to go": Driven by coffee-crazed adults, consumers are eating more and more hot breakfasts at fast-food restaurants. It's being "fed" by more women in the workforce and that work is less of a nine-to-five lifestyle. Some 20% of U.S. employees work evenings or night shifts.
  • "Snackfast": Sitting down for breakfast is fast being replaced by scurrying to grab a drink-to-go and snack-fast food bars – for mom, dad and the kids heading to school. In the last decade, the U.S. market for snack bar has doubled, and is climbing at a 6.4% annual rate. (So much for morning family togetherness.)
  • "Beware of Greeks bearing yogurt!": New York dairy farms are already beginning to capitalize on Greek yogurt. This high-protein super food promises satiety and weight management. In just five years, it's has gone from a niche product to owning a third of the U.S. yogurt market. It overrides wheat gluten concerns, plus carbs and fats. Millennials are key "heavy users".
  • "Nutritional challenges": Even outside of New York City, politicians and pundits weight in on what you should eat. The cereal industry is fighting two hot-button issues – added sugars (including corn-derivatives) and childhood obesity (one in three kids are overweight). Europe is already forcing cereal makers to skinny down sugar content, and (here) Disney's already mandating it.
  • "Boomers or bust": Due to the above plus declining birth rates, who'll be left to munch on cereal in the future? Cereal-makers are trying to recapture boomers with nostalgic-looking boxes. And you'll be seeing more "breakfast-in-the-bottle" beverages, more cereals with protein-rich legumes and nuts rather than wheat, rice and corn – targeting health-conscious older consumers.

Don't worry, though. Chocolate's on the come-back. Eliminating sugar and fat has been confirmed as a sure-fire recipe for tanking sales.

Moderation in all things is still the food industry's mantra. But hooking that up with self-disciplined eating habits and healthy eats in children remains a challenge. So how goes the eating on your farm?

Click on “Add a Comment” to share your thoughts. You don't need to be registered. Thanks for your time and insight.