Cereal shakes off negative stereotypes as the pandemic reshuffles consumer priorities

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Before the pandemic, cereal and other shelf-stable options often were criticized or blanket stereotyped as ‘unhealthy’ and overly-processed, especially when compared to fresh options sold around the perimeter of the store, Amy Cohn, a registered dietitian who works with General Mills’ Big G Cereal, told nutritionists, dietitians, influencers and other industry stakeholders at an event held in conjunction with the virtual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo earlier this month. But, she added, when the pandemic forced consumers to reduce the frequency of grocery trips, many people gave shelf-stable options – like cereal – a second look, and what they found not only contradicted their assumptions but met their needs during a time of wellness worries and lockdowns.

“Over the summer, we commissioned a new survey with over 1,000 parents, really asking them, how is the pandemic impacting your breakfast routine? And here is what we learned – we were actually a little surprised – there is a little bit of a silver lining, too. The results were 73% of the families said they actually have more time with their families in the morning. They’re actually spending that time eating breakfast together at the breakfast table, and 61% of them want to keep some of these changes that the pandemic has brought to their morning routines,”​ Cohen said.

For more than half of the respondents (55%), cereal was their children’s top choice for breakfast and one that many parents said they felt confident offering because they wanted to ensure their families consumed essential key vitamins and minerals for their health, Cohen said.

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