Nearly 40 percent of millennials don't eat cereal for breakfast

Well-known instruction has long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

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But increasingly, breakfast looks different for different generations.

The popularity of cereal as a go-to breakfast meal has slowly been fading since the late 1990s. Sales, which reached $13.9 billion in 2000, fell to about $10 billion in 2015, The New York Times reported.

“The cereal category is certainly shifting,” said Melissa Abbott, director of culinary insights for the Hartman Group, a consumer food research organization. “Consumers overall are less interested in industrially processed grains as a meaningful start to their day.”

An August 2015 report by global market research company Mintel reported that nearly half of American baby boomers and almost 40 percent of The Silent Generation, made up of people born between 1923 and 1944, said the cereals they loved as children remain their favorites. That statistic doesn't include those surveyed who still prefer cereal as a breakfast option but have changed which cereal they like to eat over time.

The same study reported 40 percent of millennials consider cereal an undesirable breakfast choice because of the inconvenience of cleaning the bowls they used.

Many younger consumers often don’t eat breakfast at all. When they do, they opt for hot grains, smoothies, yogurt or breakfast sandwiches, which they usually eat somewhere other than home or on the go.

For older generations, cereal has garnered appreciation for packaging, which often reflected pop culture and current events in past decades. But cereal often simply serves as a quick snack between meals for millennials. It usually doesn't evoke emotions of nostalgia like it does for baby boomers.

One millennial-aged New York pastry chef told the New York times she considers cereal "more as a creative outlet or a way to dip into the past than as breakfast."

But some say cereal has a bright future. 

John A. Bryant, the Kellogg Company’s chief executive, predicted that the company's cereal sales in the United States would grow by 1 or 2 percent this year.

Plus, cereal companies have been incorporating their products into various items, like crackers and snack bars. Country singer Trisha Yearwood recently created a cocktail infused with milk, Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. Other famous chefs have incorporated cereal into cutting-edge cuisine.

“They have to embrace that people love the flavor and texture of cereal and the vintage nature, but it’s not about breakfast,” said Kellogg's consultant Christina Tosi.

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