The Cereal Aisle   

I’m always impressed at the number of new breakfast cereals I’m seeing on the shelves of grocery stores. Sometimes I think to myself- if only I could keep up with new flavors! Recently, I was reading a report by the USDA showing precisely how many new cereal products have been entering and exiting the US market between the years 2009-2012. On average, breakfast cereals only make up about 2.1% of new food products entering the consumer market. However, this study found that breakfast cereals had some of the most nutritional changes over the five-year period.

Cereal Nutrition

In accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA 2015), the report decided to look at key nutrients among breakfast cereals. Most notably they found that from 2008-2012, breakfast cereals had significant increases in fiber and saturated fat content along with drops in calcium, sugar, sodium and iron content per serving basis.

Additionally, 44% of breakfast cereals entering the market from 2009-2012 all had a “whole grain” product claim.


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Product formulation

Like in the case of breakfast cereals, food companies are under some pressure to innovate their product formulation to offer superior food and beverages from a nutritional standpoint. This is especially the case as consumers become more health conscious and nutrition savvy. Unfortunately, this is only the case sometimes. In fact, products with the highest share of new entries to the market included candy, snacks and beverages. Interestingly, total product entries to the US market have been on a decline from 53,000 in 2009 down to 32,600 in 2012. Conversely, exiting food and beverage products has been on the rise from approximately 35,000 in 2009 to 40,000 in 2012. This means that by 2012 the number of exiting products surpassed entering products to the consumer market.

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Product Turnover

The USDA report also looked at product turn over (entries and exits combined) among the 17-different food and beverage categories on an average year. Here are the results:

Highest Turnover Rate

  • Candy (35.1%)
  • Nutrition/ weight loss foods (32.9%)
  • Bakery items excluding bread (30.6)
  • Yogurt (30.6%)
  • Snacks (28.5%)

Lowest Turnover Rate

  • Baking ingredients (15.4%)
  • Dairy products excluding yogurt (16.0%)
  • Condiments and sauces (16.75)
  • Fruits and vegetables (16.8%)
  • Shelf stable meals (16.9%)

The Producer

 It’s good to see food manufacturers reformulate food and beverages with the intent of providing consumers with nutritionally superior products. At the same time, it’s alarming to see just where the bulk of new foods are entering and where most of the product reformulation/ turnover occurs. Fruit and vegetable entries rank 8th on the list of 17 categories. Almost makes you wonder where we could be if more time and resources were spent on driving these products over categories like candy, snacks, and beverages which find themselves the top of the list.