Ready for breakfast?

It’s hard to believe, but breakfast cereal is no longer convenient enough. Consumers increasingly demand breakfast options that are more convenient and easy to eat on-the-go. For companies willing to innovate, this is creating some amazing – and profitable – opportunities, reports New Nutrition Business.

Although breakfast has a very different meaning and composition in each country, what is true globally is that consumers’ breakfast habits are changing. Urban dwellers – the majority of the world’s population – are increasingly looking for something that is:
• convenient and easy to eat in a hurry
• delicious
• satisfying
• provides an energy boost
• and even healthy (or has a halo of health)


But breakfast cereal companies are running out of possibilities for innovation in a category defined by big boxes containing some dry grains.

The lack of convenience in traditional breakfast products means that – with the possible exception of the French – an increasing number of people are skipping what is, nutritionally, the most important meal of the day.

Teenagers, 20-somethings and men are the biggest offenders with 25%-35% of these groups skipping breakfast in some countries. People also want more variety and they have shown themselves willing to experiment with new product types at breakfast. These changes make breakfast an attractive target for dairy companies, biscuit makers and a host of start-ups – and challenges companies whose brands and products “own” breakfast to innovate in order to retain their “share of breakfast”.

Few traditional cereal makers have delivered any genuine innovation – despite the evidence that alternative products are nibbling away at their category. A surprising number of management teams place false constraints on themselves; as a senior executive at one major cereal maker said, “their view is that our category is cereal in a bowl that you eat with a spoon – and nothing else”.

These companies could learn from Sanitarium, the market leader in breakfast cereals in Australia. Faced with the breakfast-skipping trend, it created Up & Go liquid breakfast – a 250ml beverage delivering grains and the same nutrition as a bowl of breakfast cereal with milk. It is a phenomenal success. Sanitarium doesn’t disclose numbers, but industry sources say sales are A$60 million ($62 million /€49 million).

Australia has a population of just 21 million; pro rata these sales to a major market such as the US and Up & Go are equivalent to a billion dollar annual sales brand. Sanitarium has continued to innovate and shown a rare grasp of the need to go beyond its traditional formats – the latest development is an Up & Go pouch-pack yoghurt drink.

Moma BreakfastStart-up brand Moma Breakfast, in the UK, is another example of successfully crossing category boundaries. Moma Breakfast is a blend of yoghurt, fruit and oats – effectively a convenient version of Bircher muesli – sold in a single-serve pot with its own spoon. Moma is a good example of how totally new propositions have the capability to succeed in a changing breakfast market.

Another is the success of Kraft Belvita breakfast biscuits. Faced with the huge challenge of selling a sweet biscuit as a healthy breakfast option Kraft created a clever message. The positioning of the brand is skillful and key to its success. The aim is to enable people who would like to eat healthily – or at least believe that they do – to make Belvita their breakfast choice without any guilt.

There are two steps to the Belvita message. The first is messaging on the pack and in advertising which tells people that biscuits can be part of a healthy breakfast: What is a balanced breakfast? 4 Belvita Breakfast Biscuits + 1 serving of dairy + 1 portion of fruit.

The second part emphasises the product’s slow energy-release carbohydrates, reassuring people that they can eat sweet biscuits for breakfast and still feel virtuous.

In Europe Belvita has been a massive success. In the UK sales jumped from zero to £27 million in its first year. It has since been launched in Australia and the US.

What Belvita, Moma Breakfast and Up & Go all have in common is that they deliver value to the consumer – they are premium-priced items, but consumers pay the premium because the brands score highly on:
• taste
• satisfaction
• energy
• healthfulness
• convenience

Successful breakfast products also have the following factors in common:

1. New brand with a clear breakfast identity

2. Product format, brand and benefits are a credible combination

3. Easy-to-understand benefits

4. On-the-go consumption

5. New twist on an established product type

6. Focus initially on impulse distribution (where high price matters less)

In sharp contrast to these successes, the failure of Quaker Oats in the US to create innovative and convenient new formats for its oats has caused its sales to decline. What has struck Quaker will afflict many more companies – and it’s only the companies willing to innovate who will prosper as breakfast continues to evolve.

First published in NNB’s July 2012 Newsletter

About New Nutrition Business

Julian MellentinNew Nutrition Business is a London-based research, publishing and consulting company which specialises in researching, analysing and forecasting developments in the business of food, nutrition and health around the world.

The strategies and success factors it  has identified in the 1990s have become the benchmarks for strategy development and brand positioning in the worldwide nutrition business. It works with companies all around the world, from the United States to Australia and from Sweden to South Africa.

New Nutrition Business is headed by executive director Julian Mellentin (right), one of the world’s very few global specialists in the business of food, nutrition and health.

He is the editor-in-chief of New Nutrition Business and Kids Nutrition Report, the only industry journal in the world on the rapidly developing kids’ nutritional marketplace. See