The golden age of cereal

The below chart shows the total number of cereals launched per year:

 

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As shown, we are entering a golden age of cereal variety! The majority of cereals have been launched in the past ~10 years (over 1/3 of all cereals):

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Breaking these products down by brand shows us that the variety may not be as strong as initially presented, with just 5 manufacturers accounting for >95% of the cereal market. Clearly, there is a lot of re-naming/packaging/branding for “new” product launches occurring amongst this handful of companies:

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Turning now to how these cereals perform on the market, we can see that nearly half of all cereals last less than 5 years before being discontinued:

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Curious to see if this sunset/cereal discontinuation rate varied amongst the major manufacturers, I found that it is quite similar, with 25-33% of all cereals launched being discontinued by each of the top 4 manufacturers.

It’s worth recognizing that General Mills is a bit more committed to their launches, pulling the plug on its cereal varieties ~6% less than the group mean:

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The next logical question to ask when coming across all if this information is ‘why are manufacturers producing a continuously increase amount of cereal variety’?

Most speculate that this is due to manufacturers trying to combat the general stagnation in the breakfast cereal market. I propose there are two major strategies for combatting flat/declining sales:

(1) Bring the millennials back by re-launching their old favorites:

NY times posted a popular article earlier this year discussing the declining interest, particularly amongst millennials, in breakfast cereal; the article explained that in recent surveys, over 40% of millennials opted out of breakfast cereal because of the hassle (time + mess to clean up after). Manufacturers, as a result, have been trying to lure millennials back in with nostalgic favorites, such as French Toast Crunch.

(2) Join the health/psuedo-health wave by offering healthier varieties:

As qz.com writes, yogurt sales have skyrocketed in the past ~10 years whereas breakfast cereal sales have remained flat. Many speculate this is due to yogurt being a natural convenient and healthy breakfast choice. Since cereal again cannot really change its convenience level (unless you’re on team dry cereal), it seems they may be taking the health angle, rebranding and renaming many existing cereals with buzzwords such as gluten-free, organic, all-natural, etc.

yogurt-catches-up-to-cereal-in-the-us-breakfast-cereal-sales-yogurt-sales_chartbuilder

(3) Companies are explicitly designing short-tenured cereals for promotional reasons

If you check some of the more recent short-tenured cereals in the list below, you’ll see a lot of them are intentionally designed to be on the market for a limited time; they are either being promoted as ‘limited edition’ items, or are associated with some TV show/movie. I’d guess these types of cereals generate a nice jump in sales and lure consumers to buy outside of regular habits.

For those interested in knowing just how old their favorite cereals are, or what cereals had the shortest time on market (shoutout to Millenios) I’ve created a repository of cereals and their associated tenure (age since inception):

Name Brand Launch year End year Tenure (years)
Grape-Nuts Post 1897 Currently Available 119
Corn Flakes Kellogg’s 1907 Currently Available 109
All-Bran Kellogg’s 1916 Currently Available 100
Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1929 Currently Available 87
CoCo Wheats Little Crow Foods 1930 Currently Available 86
Wheat Chex General Mills 1937 Currently Available 79
Kix General Mills 1937 Currently Available 79
Cheerios General Mills 1941 Currently Available 75
Raisin Bran Kellogg’s 1944 Currently Available 72
Golden Crisp Post 1949 Currently Available 67
Sugar Crisp Post 1949 Currently Available 67
Rice Chex General Mills 1950 Currently Available 66
Corn Pops Kellogg’s 1951 Currently Available 65
Frosted Flakes Kellogg’s 1952 Currently Available 64
Honey Smacks Kellogg’s 1953 Currently Available 63
Sugar Smacks Kellogg’s 1953 Currently Available 63
Special K Kellogg’s 1955 Currently Available 61
Krumbles-Kellogg’s Kellogg’s 1913 1973 60
Cocoa Krispies Kellogg’s 1958 Currently Available 58
Cocoa Puffs General Mills 1958 Currently Available 58
Alpha-Bits Post 1958 Currently Available 58
Corn Chex General Mills 1958 Currently Available 58
Life Quaker 1960 Currently Available 56
Total General Mills 1961 Currently Available 55
Cap’n Crunch Quaker 1963 Currently Available 53
Lucky Charms General Mills 1964 Currently Available 52
Froot Loops Kellogg’s 1964 Currently Available 52
Apple Jacks Kellogg’s 1965 Currently Available 51
Honeycomb Post 1965 Currently Available 51
Cap’n Crunch Crunch Berries Quaker 1967 Currently Available 49
Product 19 Kellogg’s 1967 Currently Available 49
Peanut Butter Crunch Quaker 1969 Currently Available 47
Pebbles Cereal Post 1969 Currently Available 47
Fruity Pebbles Post 1969 Currently Available 47
Fruity Pebbles Post 1969 Currently Available 47
Kaboom! General Mills 1969 Currently Available 47
Golden Grahams General Mills 1970 Currently Available 46
Cocoa Pebbles N/A 1970 Currently Available 46
Cocoa Pebbles Post 1970 Currently Available 46
King Vitaman Quaker 1970 Currently Available 46
Monster Cereals General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Count Chocula General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Franken Berry General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Count Chocula General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Franken Berry General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Count Chocula General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Franken Berry General Mills 1971 Currently Available 45
Boo-Berry Cereal General Mills 1973 Currently Available 43
Boo Berry General Mills 1973 Currently Available 43
Boo Berry General Mills 1973 Currently Available 43
Cookie Crisp General Mills 1977 Currently Available 39
Cinnamon Life Quaker 1978 Currently Available 38
Mini-Wheats Kellogg’s 1978 Currently Available 38
Honey Nut Cheerios General Mills 1979 Currently Available 37
Cinnamon Nut Cheerios General Mills 1980 Currently Available 36
Mueslix Kellogg’s 1980 Currently Available 36
Honey Nut Corn Flakes Kellogg’s 1981 Currently Available 35
Crispix Kellogg’s 1983 Currently Available 33
Cinnamon Toast Crunch General Mills 1984 Currently Available 32
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios General Mills 1988 Currently Available 28
Christmas Crunch Quaker 1988 Currently Available 28
Honey Bunches of Oats Post 1989 Currently Available 27
Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds Post 1990 Currently Available 26
Multi-Bran Chex General Mills 1990 Currently Available 26
MultiGrain Cheerios General Mills 1991 Currently Available 25
Yummy Mummy General Mills 1988 2013 25
Berry Berry Kix General Mills 1992 Currently Available 24
Rice Krispies Treats Cereal Kellogg’s 1993 Currently Available 23
Rice Krispies Treats Cereal Kellogg’s 1993 Currently Available 23
Reese’s Puffs General Mills 1994 Currently Available 22
French Toast Crunch General Mills 1995 Currently Available 21
Frosted Cheerios General Mills 1995 Currently Available 21
Concentrate Kellogg’s 1959 1980 21
Krispy Kritters 1960s General Mills 1960 1980 20
Honey Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1996 Currently Available 20
Jets General Mills 1950 1970 20
Cranberry Almond Crunch Post 1997 Currently Available 19
Oops! All Berries Quaker 1997 Currently Available 19
Rice Krinkles Post 1951 1970 19
Chex Ralston 1997 Currently Available 19
Oat Crisp Quaker 1998 Currently Available 18
Raisin Bran Crunch Kellogg’s 1999 Currently Available 17
Crispy Critters Post 1963 1980 17
Honey Nut Chex General Mills 1999 Currently Available 17
Nestlé NesQuik General Mills/Nestlé 1999 Currently Available 17
Special K Red Berries N/A 2001 Currently Available 15
Freakies Ralston 1972 1987 15
Honey Bunches of Oats with Strawberries Post 2002 Currently Available 14
Strawberry Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1983 1997 14
Berry Burst Cheerios General Mills 2003 Currently Available 13
Berry Burst Cheerios General Mills 2003 Currently Available 13
Smorz Kellogg’s 2003 Currently Available 13
Peanut Butter Toast Crunch General Mills 2004 Currently Available 12
Less Sugar Frosted Flakes Kellogg’s 2004 Currently Available 12
Yogurt Burst Cheerios General Mills 2004 Currently Available 12
Cinnamon Cheerios General Mills 2004 Currently Available 12
Marshmallow Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1982 1993 11
Chocolate Lucky Charms General Mills 2005 Currently Available 11
Tony’s Turboz Kellogg’s 2005 Currently Available 11
S’mores Grahams or S’mores Crunch General Mills 1980 1990 10
Apple Cinnamon Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1980 1990 10
Fruity Cheerios General Mills 2006 Currently Available 10
Comet Balls Spix/Sulava & Company 2006 Currently Available 10
Oatibix Weetabix Limited 2006 Currently Available 10
Eggo Kellogg’s 2006 Currently Available 10
Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla Clusters Post 2007 Currently Available 9
Choco Crunch (Re-introduced Version) Quaker 2007 Currently Available 9
Oat Cluster Cheerios Crunch General Mills 2007 Currently Available 9
Chocolate Chex General Mills 2007 Currently Available 9
Fruit Brute General Mills 1974 1983 9
Oreo O’s N/A 1998 2007 9
Honey Bunches of Oats with Chocolate Clusters Post 2008 Currently Available 8
Honey Bunches of Oats Just Bunches Post 2008 Currently Available 8
Maple & Brown Sugar Life Quaker 2008 Currently Available 8
Banana Nut Cheerios General Mills 2008 Currently Available 8
Frosted Flakes Gold Kellogg’s 2008 Currently Available 8
Puffa Puffa Rice Kellogg’s 1967 1975 8
Honey Bunches of Oats with Peaches Post 2004 2011 7
Marshmallow-Blasted Froot Loops Kellogg’s 1998 2005 7
Cinnamon Chex General Mills 2009 Currently Available 7
Honey Kix General Mills 2009 Currently Available 7
Honey Bunches of Oats with Cinnamon Clusters Post 2006 2012 6
Apple Jacks Apple Clones Kellogg’s 2010 Currently Available 6
Chocolate Cheerios General Mills 2010 Currently Available 6
Sugar Sprinkled Twinkles General Mills 1960 1965 5
Cinnamon Burst Cheerios General Mills 2011 Currently Available 5
Cinnamon Crunch Crispix Kellogg’s 2001 2006 5
Honey Graham Life Quaker 2004 2009 5
Quake Quaker 1965 1970 5
Mini Swirlz Cinnamon Bun Cereal Kellogg’s 2005 2009 4
Krave U.S Version – Kellogg’s Kellogg’s 2012 Currently Available 4
Disney Hunny B’s Honey-Graham Kellogg’s/Disney 2002 2006 4
Double Chocolate Krave Kellogg’s 2012 Currently Available 4
Apple Cinnamon Chex General Mills 2012 Currently Available 4
Honey Graham Chex General Mills 1986 1990 4
Frosted Mini-Chex General Mills 2002 2006 4
Double Dip Crunch Kellogg’s 1989 1993 4
Chocolate Krave Kellogg’s 2012 Currently Available 4
Fruity Marshmallow Krispies Kellogg’s 1987 1990 3
Razzle Dazzle Rice Krispies Kellogg’s 1997 2000 3
Vanilla Yogurt Crunch Life Quaker 2005 2008 3
Frosted Flakes Chocolate Kellogg’s 2010 2013 3
Cookie Crisp Sprinkles General Mills 2009 2012 3
Banana Frosted Flakes Kellogg’s 1981 1984 3
SpongeBob SquarePants Kellogg’s 2004 2007 3
Cocoa Frosted Flakes Kellogg’s 1997 2000 3
Cookie Crisp Brownie General Mills 2013 Currently Available 3
Cinna-Crunch Pebbles Post 1998 2001 3
Ghostbusters Cereal Ralston 1985 1988 3
Smurf Magic Berries Post 1987 1990 3
Berry Lucky Charms General Mills 2006 2009 3
Quake Quangaroos Quaker 1971 1974 3
Mickey’s Magix Kellogg’s/Disney 2002 2005 3
Nerds Cereal Ralston 1983 1986 3
Mud & Bugs Kellogg’s/Disney 2003 2006 3
Rice Krispies With Real Strawberries Kellogg’s 2007 2009 2
Rice Krispies With Real Strawberries Kellogg’s 2007 2009 2
Mini Swirlz Fudge Ripple Cereal Kellogg’s 2005 2007 2
Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp General Mills 2006 2008 2
Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp General Mills 2006 2008 2
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ralston 1989 1991 2
Keebler Cookie Crunch Cereal Kellogg’s 2008 2010 2
Peanut Butter Cookie Crisp General Mills 2005 2007 2
Tony’s Cinnamon Krunchers Kellogg’s 2003 2005 2
Marshmallow Mania Pebbles Post 2005 2007 2
Chocolate Oat Crunch Life Quaker 2006 2008 2
Cocoa Krispies Choconilla Kellogg’s 2007 2009 2
Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles Post 2007 2009 2
Oatmeal Cookie Crisp General Mills 1978 1980 2
Vanilla Cookie Crisp General Mills 1978 1980 2
Pink Panther Flakes Post 1972 1974 2
Cracker Jack Cereal Ralston 1983 1985 2
Cran-Vanilla Crunch Kellogg’s 2005 2007 2
Spider-Man Cereal N/A 2002 2004 2
Hidden Treasures General Mills 1993 1995 2
Strawberry Chex General Mills 2008 2010 2
Cupcake Pebbles Post 2009 2011 2
Berry Krispies Kellogg’s 2006 2008 2
Jumbo Krispies Kellogg’s 2009 2011 2
Tiger Power Kellogg’s 2004 2006 2
Mini Swirlz Peanut Butter Blast Cereal Kellogg’s 2006 2007 1
Honey Bunches of Oats with Bananas Post 2004 2005 1
Cap’n Crunch’s Oops! Choco Donuts Quaker 2003 2004 1
Pirates of the Caribbean Cereal Kellogg’s 2006 2007 1
The Fairly OddParents Cereal! Post 2003 2004 1
Pro Grain Cereal Kellogg’s Kellogg’s 1987 1988 1
Mickey Mouse Magic Crunch Post 1988 1989 1
Apple Jacks Criss Crossed Kellogg’s 2008 2009 1
Donkey Kong Jr. Cereal Ralston 1983 1984 1
Nintendo Cereal System Ralston/Nintendo – 1988 1989 1
Cat in the Hat Cereal Kellogg’s 2003 2004 1
Millenios (Cheerios) General Mills 1999 2000 1
Apple Jacks Gliders Kellogg’s 2009 2010 1
Donkey Kong Crunch Ralston 1982 1983 1
IceBerry Pebbles Post 2006 2007 1
Morning Funnies N/A 1988 1989 1
Cröonchy Stars N/A 1988 1989 1
Rocky Road General Mills 1986 1987 1
Dinersaurs Ralston 1988 1989 1
Honey Maid Post 2007 2008 1
Slimer! And The Real Ghosterbusters Cereal Ralston 1990 1990 0
Birthday Confetti Frosted Flakes Kellogg’s 1997 1997 0
Sprinkle Spangles General Mills 1990 1990 0
Sun Crunchers General Mills 1990 1990 0
Choco Crunch Quaker 1980 1980 0
Punch Crunch Quaker 1970 1970 0
Dino Pebbles Post 1990 1990 0
Oatbake Kellogg’s 1990 1990 0
OKs Kellogg’s 1960 1960 0

 



The data! – source/data collection/processing

I collected this set by using the Chrome developer tool to scrape Wikipedia’s list of breakfast cereals page (code below).  I used iPython to analyze/visualize, complete notebook here. Code to scrap wiki page below:

 

 

Are you media? If you would like to reference this on your website, please feel free to do so with appropriate attribution, but I would appreciate it if you would let me know first.

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