Sales of Breakfast Cereal Increasing around the World    

By Lynne Cooke

North America may be tops in sales of breakfast cereal, but the rest of the world is catching up.

North America accounts for more than a third of the $35 billion global breakfast cereal market, according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the new report “Global Breakfast Cereals.” With $12 billion in sales in 2018, North America has the largest share in the world.

Meanwhile, Asia, Europe, and Africa are regions where breakfast cereal sales are growing annually at rates outpacing the United States and Canada. Packaged Facts forecasts breakfast cereal sales worldwide will climb 3% annually to $40 billion by 2023, largely led by sales growth in nations outside North America.

“While breakfast cereal penetration is much lower in the rest of the world, consumption rates are rising as cereal companies target these areas. In these nations, instead of breakfast cereals being an entrenched product that competes with new breakfast options, cereals are being introduced as an alternative to traditional fare,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

According to the researcher, North America has the highest penetration of breakfast cereals in the world, with per capita consumption of both hot and ready-to-eat cereals well above all other regions. However, per capita consumption has been falling in recent years due to the increasingly busy lifestyles of consumers and a wide variety of other breakfast options. Currently only the United Kingdom and Australia have breakfast cereal consumption rates approaching those of the U.S. and Canada.

The cereal report states that Asia – especially China and India – offers the best opportunities for growth in cereal consumption worldwide. That’s because per capita consumption levels are currently very low and both populations and personal incomes are growing. However, to increase sales, cereal manufacturers need to overcome breakfast traditions that focus on very inexpensive, hot, cooked foods eaten at home.

While China is one of the most developed processed food markets in the world, it currently has very low rates of per capita cereal consumption for several reasons:

  • Cultural preference for hot foods (considered healthier)
  • Issues with milk consumption and quality.

Growth in the Chinese cereal market depends on overcoming these issues as well as on the introduction of convenient new product formats and flavors geared to local preferences.

While the future for sales of breakfast cereal varies around the world, suppliers face several issues, such as an increasing demand for cereals that are healthy, convenient, and offer novel formats or interesting flavors. Packaged Facts elaborates as follows:
  • Cereal makers are launching products with new flavors and new formats (including nostalgic flavors, regional flavors, seasonal versions, and products that make cereal eating even more convenient – for example, packaged overnight oats).

  • Innovation in better tasting, better-for-you cereals – especially those with organic ingredients or a nutritional profile suitable to gluten-free, grain-free, “paleo,” or “keto” diets – are also ways to interest customers.

  • Breakfast cereal is being repositioned to an “anytime” food that can be consumed as a meal, snack, or dessert by developing several indulgent flavors and packaging to make on-the-go eating easier.

  • In countries where cereal is not traditionally eaten (partially because lactose intolerance is common), the wide availability of plant and nut milks that taste good with cereal will help boost the market. Sales in these markets will also be facilitated by promoting cereals as tasty and easy to consume without milk, playing into the snacking trend.

“The Westernization of the diet in many of these areas also makes breakfast cereals a novel and enticing food option,” summed up Sprinkle of Packaged Facts.

The report covers the scope, size, and growth of the global market for breakfast cereals, including trends in key market segments. Historical data are provided for 2010, 2013, and 2018, with forecasts to 2023. Breakfast cereal data are provided in U.S. dollar terms. Also included are analyses of consumer, marketing, and product development trends affecting the global breakfast cereal market, as well as cultural trends governing breakfast-eating habits across the world.

For more information about the report, visit

                                                                       Early December 2019
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