The ‘most important meal of the day’ makes a comeback

There is little question that the ongoing recession has reshaped consumer habits. With more families eating more meals at home, such categories as breakfast foods have seen a resurgence in recent years.

And at the heart of it all is the ready-to-eat cereal category, which generates nearly 54% of sales of all breakfast foods. While a combination of discounting and tough year-over-year comparisons show the category down more than 2% from its peak at the beginning of the economic downturn, ready-to-eat cereal generated more than 12 shopping trips, according to mid-year 2010 data from the Nielsen Homescan consumer facts panel—that’s more than twice as many as any other breakfast food category. More than 92% of households made at least one ready-to-eat cereal purchase during that period, with the typical home spending $66.69.

With a rising awareness around healthier-for-you food products, many of these types of breakfast items are enticing consumer trial by marketing against a particular set of additional health claims. For example, sales of items making claims around flax or hemp seed were up 49.6% for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 4 across food, drug and mass outlets, including Walmart, according to Nielsen; sales of foods making antioxidant claims were up 26.6%, and sales of foods making fiber claims were up 5.3%.

Breakfast foods *In millionsSource: The Nielsen Co. for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 4 across food, drug and mass (including Walmart)
Cereal (ready-to-eat)$8,131.6-2.7%
Granola/yogurt bars1,649.33.8
A/O frozen/refrigerated breakfast foods1,263.67.1
Cereal (hot)1,027.7-5.2
Toaster pastries952.4-0.4
Frozen waffles/pancakes/french toast811.8-7.4
Breakfast bars804.6-5.3
Cereal (granola and natural types)248.29.1
Hominy grits111.8-0.9
Instant breakfast (powdered)106.12.6
Wheat germ16.46.1

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