Sure, Mom always said you should eat breakfast every day. But do we listen to her? Maybe not.
America’s leading cereal maker, Kellogg’s, reported a 4% decline in its annual U.S. cereal sales Thursday, slashing its long-term growth forecast roughly in half. What’s to blame for the soggy outlook? Kellogg’s and other cereal makers face two big problems: Breakfast-skippers and changing tastes.
Americans’ increasingly hectic mornings mean that about 15% of us skip breakfast entirely, with notable discrepancies between age and gender groups, according to the latest figures from a 2011-2012 National Center for Health Statistics survey:
The chart above shows that school-aged children and young adults are most likely to skip breakfast, while toddlers and the elderly are the most likely to have eaten breakfast. That makes sense — school-aged kids and young professionals are the most likely group to have to rush out the door before getting in a square meal.
On average, men tend to skip breakfast more than women—except, interestingly, during the 12-19 age range. Taken altogether, the data suggest that from your pre-teen years to your mid-50s, you’ll likely be skipping breakfast once a week.
That’s a big problem if you’re Kellogg’s. What’s a cereal company to do to milk profits from time-strapped breakfast-skippers? Many, Kellogg’s included, have been experimenting with cereal in pouches and backpack-ready cereal bars, both marketed as grab-and-go eating options for the ride to work or school.
But even for those who still eat breakfast, there are troubling signs that cereal is falling out of fashion. Sales of other breakfast foods like yogurt have become more popular as Americans look for lower-carb options, according to research by Nielsen. That’s a headache for cereal-focused companies like Kellogg’s, but less of a problem for its more diversified rivals, like General Mills:
(Read more: 10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying)