KANSAS CITY – Who can resist love? Or cinnamon? Or Girl Scout Cookies?
Cereal manufacturers — who have faced tough sledding in recent years — hope no one.
In the 52 weeks ended Oct. 30, dollar sales in the ready-to-eat cereal category totaled $8,791,574,528, down 1.3% from the same period a year ago, according to Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm. Unit sales over the same timeframe have slipped 2.8%, according to I.R.I.
But cereal makers hope to reverse the sales slide, and the industry’s three largest players — General Mills, Inc., Kellogg Co. and Post Holdings, Inc. — are taking the lead by thinking outside the cereal box.
In June, Minneapolis-based General Mills introduced Tiny Toast, its first cereal brand launch in more than 15 years. Tiny Toast features crunchy, toast-shaped bites sprinkled with real fruit bits. The cereal contains no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial flavors or colors from artificial sources and is one of only a few cereals in the category to be flavored with real fruit, according to the company.
Each serving contains 13 grams of whole grains and 9 grams of sugar.
“Consumers’ tastes continue to evolve, but they remain steadfast in their search for options with wholesome, pantry-friendly ingredients,” said Alan Cunningham, senior marketing manager at General Mills. “This inspired our development process, and we went where few brands in the cereal category have gone before, using real fruit. With real ingredients and a truly irresistible taste, we know consumers will agree Tiny Toast was worth the wait.”
The product was developed to have an “all-family appeal” similar to Honey Nut Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the company said. Work began on the product more than a year ago.
In October, General Mills took another major step with the announcement of its partnership with the Girl Scouts of America to introduce two new cereals in 2017: Girl Scouts Thin Mints and Girl Scouts Caramel Crunch.
The two flavors are expected to be available for a limited time beginning in January 2017. According to the Girl Scouts, Thin Mints is the organization’s top selling cookie. The No. 2 selling cookie is Caramel deLites, also known as Samoas. The Caramel Crunch cereal package features an image of a Caramel deLite.
“Yes, it’s true!” General Mills noted on its Twitter feed on Oct. 24. “Girl Scouts cookie cereals will hit U.S. stores in January. We’ll share more details soon!”