MINNEAPOLIS — With pandemic-related concerns winding down, could the ready-to-eat cereal category have a bit of a rebound, or is low growth the new norm?
Jeffrey L. Harmening, chief executive officer of General Mills, Inc., said he expects a little of both.
“I think as consumers were home, they had more time to prepare breakfast,” Mr. Harmening said during a June 30 conference call with analysts to discuss fiscal 2021 financial results.
With more time to prepare breakfast consumers shifted to such foods as eggs and pancakes, leading those categories to grow more quickly than cereal. But Mr. Harmening said the cereal has grown over the past two years, and General Mills has performed even better than the overall cereal category, adding 60 basis points of share in fiscal 2021.
He was adamant that cereal is not only important today, but it will be important in the future.
“It’s used, obviously, for breakfast,” he said. “It’s used for snacking throughout the day. We’ve got some great innovation coming this year. And at the same time, we know that our marketing continues to work, things like Cheerios and our cholesterol messaging, our kid fun messaging around Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms. We believe the category will continue to grow. We hope — again, it’s probably not going to be high single digits, but we think a little bit of growth in that category is in our future. And I think as things get back to normal — more normal — and consumers are back to school and back to the office, we’ll see some of the convenience that cereal provides, providing a bit of a tailwind to the category.”