Eating cereal as a dessert has been around for at least as long as chocolate-covered Rice Krispie treats. But thanks to covid it’s enjoying a revival.

During the pandemic “we saw people becoming more inventive and experimental with their choices”, says Weetabix global insights head Chris Dubois.

“We saw kids mixing up different cereals and making their own creations. I think that has had a lasting legacy.”

The trend has since been reinforced by social media. In early 2022, #OvernightWeetabix swept across TikTok, amassing 51.9 million views and inspiring online foodies to use sweet ingredients in creations like Oreo Cheesecake Weetabix.

As such, Weetabix is promoting unconventional uses for its cereal this year with its £2m ‘Any Which Way a Bix’ campaign. Social media influencers will encourage shoppers to download a recipe book that includes instructions for desserts like Weetabix tiramisu.

There’s similar potential for porridge oats, adds Quaker marketing director at PepsiCo, Corinne Chant.

“During lockdown we saw more people experimenting with things like overnight oats and getting creative. Flavours like our Heavenly Oats can help people make something that tastes good,” she says.

It’s not just home cooks getting busy with Insta-ready creations, though. There’s a huge opportunity for cereals as a sweet snack eaten straight from the pack – especially when there’s a health incentive.

“It’s a very easy thing to do – it’s almost like putting your hands in the cookie jar,” says Jac Chetland, co-founder of the no sugar cereal brand Surreal.

“We’re seeing it eaten as a kind of dessert substitute. So it’s having a bowl of cereal at night because you got in late or you’re sat in front of the TV and you want something sweet-tasting but without the added guilt. It’s just a bit more healthy.”

As well as keeping sugar consumption down, having cereal for dessert could also help shoppers save money on pricier options.

“Breakfast is already a category that some shoppers might think to skip as a way to manage costs, so showcasing to shoppers value for money will be hugely important to retain and grow penetration,” notes Kantar client executive Fiona McQuire.

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