family eating together

Global Trends in Breakfast Cereals

With consumers stuck at home during the pandemic, eating breakfast at home as a family became part of the new routine—with taste, convenience, and health benefits making breakfast cereal a top choice. Here’s a look at some global trends in breakfast cereals for 2021—plus key opportunities for manufacturers.

Breakfast is Back

The most important meal of the day is finally getting the attention it deserves, with COVID lockdowns causing a rise in at-home breakfast consumption and a resurgence of cereal for breakfast. In the U.S., 38% of adults have been buying more cereal since the pandemic began.1 Post-pandemic, many consumers are likely to retain their new at-home breakfast routine due to factors ranging from affordability to enjoying quality time with their families.

Breakfast Cereals Have a Health Halo Globally

While taste is still #1 when it comes to breakfast cereal, health is becoming more important to consumers as the past year refocused their attention on staying well. In the UK, for example, 75% of cereal buyers consider taste to be a key consideration when purchasing cereal, but 57% point to healthfulness.2 Globally, 69% of consumers turn to breakfast cereals as one of the products to boost their health.3 Breakfast cereal is a product that can check all the boxes—delivering on taste, convenience, and health—all of which will remain important.

bowl of granola and fruit

2021 Trends in Cereal

This surge in interest in breakfast cereals is creating some exciting opportunities for manufacturers, particularly for those who can offer consumers new healthy options without sacrificing taste. Here’s a look at the global trends in breakfast cereal for this year:

1. Natural

Natural is a key trend in breakfast cereals as a growing number of consumers consider natural ingredients to be healthier and even more sustainable. In Germany, for example, 50% of breakfast cereal consumers look for cereals with natural ingredients.4 Across Europe, natural claims such as no artificial ingredients or preservatives in new cereal launches increased by 16% over the past five years.5 Expect this trend to grow as more consumers choose a natural start to their day.

2. High Fiber

High fiber is also on the rise in breakfast cereals. Among last year’s global cereal launches, whole grain was the top claim at 38%, followed by high fiber at 30%.6 While consumers have traditionally linked fiber with digestive health, the pandemic has increased awareness of the role of fiber in maintaining a healthy immune system as well. There is also an uptick in cereals featuring both high fiber and protein such as Kellogg’s Special K Protein Nuts, Clusters & Seeds Cereal in the UK and One Day More Protein Muesli in Poland.

3. High Protein

While high protein is trending globally, the Asia Pacific region is driving growth in high protein cereals, with 11% of the region’s cereal launches last year featuring a high protein claim.7 Protein is particularly important in India, where 54% of adults define a healthy breakfast as one that’s high in protein.8 An exciting protein cereal innovation out of North America is Wonderworks Keto-Friendly Cereal—a cereal providing 17 grams of protein per serving from milk protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and peanut flour.


4. Immune Associated Ingredients

Foods that support a healthy immune system have become more important than ever due to COVID-19. New breakfast cereals positioned to meet this need include Special K Immune Support in the UK with a blend of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and Table of Plenty Immunity+ Porridge in Australia with vitamin C-rich Kakadu plum, honey, and ginger, in addition to essential vitamins and minerals. Between 2016 and 2020, fewer than 3% of global cereal launches featured immunity claims, indicating untapped potential in this area.9 

Start Their Day with Healthy Ingredients

As things begin to return to normal, breakfast cereals can continue to play an important role in consumers’ diets and morning routines. Healthy, natural, and nutritious ingredients are key to helping them start their day off right.

Glanbia Nutritionals offers a wide range of nutritional ingredients and services to help brands make the healthy breakfast cereals consumers crave, including functional dairy-based Protein Solutions, Plant-based Solutions and Custom Premix Solutions for essential nutrients. Contact us to get started!


1. Mintel, A year of innovation in breakfast cereals, 2020, November 2020.
2. Mintel, The Future of Breakfast Cereals: 2021, February 2021.
3. FMCG Gurus, Positive Nutrition - Three Key Takeaways, May 2021.
4-5. Mintel, A year of innovation in breakfast cereals, 2020, November 2020.
6. Mintel, The Future of Breakfast Cereals: 2021, February 2021.
7-8. Mintel, A year of innovation in breakfast cereals, 2020, November 2020.
9. Mintel, The Future of Breakfast Cereals: 2021, February 2021.

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