KANSAS CITY — A multinational company, a socially active company, and a brother and sister who appeared on the TV show “Shark Tank” all introduced new products in the hot cereal/oatmeal category in 2021.
General Mills, Minneapolis, has posted market share gains in US cereal in four consecutive years, and new hot cereal launches could provide an added boost. General Mills in late May launched Big G instant oatmeal varieties in the flavors of Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix and Cocoa Puffs. Each oatmeal comes with a topping: marshmallows for Lucky Charms, “cinnadust” topping for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a multi-colored crunchy topping for Trix and a chocolate-flavored crunchy topping for Cocoa Puffs.
General Mills had the two top-selling ready-to-eat cereal brands (Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) in the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, 2021, but in the hot cereal/oatmeal category none of the four General Mills brands has yet reached the top 15 brands in US retail sales, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.
This Saves Lives, Los Angeles, was founded in 2013 with a mission statement to end severe acute malnutrition globally. The company in 2021 launched Kids Oatmeal that provides one full serving of fruits and vegetables from a blend of apple, onion, broccoli, kale, cranberry and raspberry. The gluten-free, peanut-free and dairy-free oatmeal is made with whole grain oats, brown sugar, sea salt and monk fruit. The oatmeal comes in five flavors: rainbow sprinkles, chocolate, apple cinnamon, blueberry and strawberry. Each purchase of any This Saves Lives product sends food aid to a child suffering from severe acute malnutrition somewhere in the world.
Siblings Christopher and Jennifer Jane promoted their Proper Good company on the TV show “Shark Tank” last October. The company in 2021 launched Proper Good Ready Oatmeal, a pre-cooked, shelf-stable oatmeal that is dairy-free, gluten-free and plant-based. It is available in four varieties: oats, apple cinnamon oats, blueberry coconut oats, and Choc, PB & Banana Oats. To prepare the oatmeal, consumers remove the card topper, tear off the top of the pouch and heat the oatmeal in a microwave for a minute.
“We decided to introduce oatmeal specifically because breakfast is a particularly tough time of day for most people,” said Christopher Jane, co-founder and chief executive officer. “Things are chaotic while you’re just getting going, but yet you want to eat a healthy, tasty breakfast to fuel your day in the right way. Our solution is steel cut oats mixed with chia, flax, hemp seed and coconut oil for a high-fiber and filling breakfast.”
In December the company added two more varieties: a caramel pecan and date stir-in variety and a spiced pumpkin pie and maple stir-in variety.
More well-known hot cereal brands found it difficult in 2021 to duplicate 2020 sales, which were boosted by at-home eating during COVID-19.
Cream of Wheat generated net sales of $15.2 million in the third quarter ended Oct. 2, 2021. That figure was down $1.2 million, or 7.4%, from the third quarter of 2020 but up 8.5% when compared to the third quarter of 2019, said Bruce C. Wacha, chief financial officer of B&G Foods, Parsippany, NJ, in a Nov. 4 earnings call. In the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, B&G Foods had US retail sales of $98 million in hot cereal/oatmeal, which was down 7% from the previous 52-week period, according to IRI.
Among brands of Post Consumer Brands, a business of Post Holdings, Inc., St. Louis, Fruity Dyno-Bites from its Malt-O-Meal, Inc. line was among the company’s five most popular cereals during 2021. Post described the cereal as “a fun and fruity flavor that kids and adults love,” but Malt-O-Meal did not have its best year in 2021.
“We have pockets of softer demand in our value cereal segments, notably MOM Brands and private label,” said Robert V. Vitale, president and CEO of Post Holdings, in a Nov. 19 earnings call to discuss financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
Malt-O-Meal brand sales for the 52-week period ended Dec. 26 were $14 million, down 10%, according to IRI.
The hot cereal/oatmeal category overall posted sales of $1.42 billion in the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, which were down 3.3% from the previous year. Private label sales plunged 15% to $253 million.
Quaker Oats North America, a business of PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY, led the hot cereal/oatmeal category with sales of $836 million for the 52-week period ended Dec. 26, 2021, which were down 2.6% from the previous 52-week period. Quaker led all brands with sales of $710 million, down 2.6%. Sales jumped 17% for Quaker Select Starts to $32 million.