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Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day, but the Way We Eat It Is Changing
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Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day, but the Way We Eat It Is Changing

Learning to pour yourself a bowl of cereal is a time honored part of growing up. It’s the first meal you can finally make for yourself, and as parents, it means the constant “But I’m hungry!” comments can be met with, “Go pour yourself a bowl of cereal.” Plus, who can pass up the prize at the bottom of the box?

So it should come as no surprise that for children, cereal is a breakfast of champions. According to Nielsen Homescan data, households with children aged 6-12 spend 45% more on cereal than total U.S. households and are the primary drivers of total cereal sales in the country. Meanwhile, households without children under-index on purchases of cereal and spend 20% less than total households on kids’ cereal.

While children are still reaching for cereal boxes, the category is facing steep competition for America’s breakfast dollars. Egg sales have been on the rise over the past four years, climbing 20% in just the past year. Much of this growth was driven by brown and organic eggs, which saw 28% and 39% dollar growth, respectively, in the same time. But Americans aren’t ditching their spoons altogether. Standbys like yogurt and even hot cereal have also seen dollar growth in the past four years.

Why is it that as we age, cereal gets bowled over for other breakfast options? Our busy lifestyle could play a part. Ready-to-eat breakfasts can be consumed on the go with no cleanup required. Americans are also on the lookout for the healthiest options. In a recent Nielsen survey, respondents ranked protein content above fiber and whole grain in importance when weighing health attributes of food purchases.

But while some American consumers are going against the grain, cereal still represents more sales than other breakfast items, like eggs and yogurt, and opportunity for growth exists. According to Nielsen Homescan data, larger and younger households over index both in kids and multi-pack cereal sales. So while alternative breakfast options pose a threat, they’re not necessarily cereal killers.