The cereals market has enjoyed steady growth in the last year, rising 4.1% to £1.24bn. This was helped considerably by the nation's ever-increasing appetite for better-for-you offerings.

The hot cereals sector continues to be the key driver, boosted by the fact it can promote a variety of natural health benefits. Instant products, such as Quaker Oatso Simple, which have managed to combine the trend for convenience with the newly proclaimed status of oats as a superfood, are the primary driver and the sector is outperforming the total category, with sales up 7.8% to £102m. This is slower, however, than the previous year's boom.

Recognising the power of the Quaker brand's oat positioning,

PepsiCo splashed out on a revamp and a £5.8m marketing spend for the portfolio. Oatso Simple got the lion's share, with a £4m budget, while the remaining £1.8m went on the more traditional products. The activity resulted in Oatso Simple moving up the ladder to the eighth spot, as sales jumped 7.8% to £28.5m.

Quaker also made a bid to transfer its hot cereal expertise into the cold sector, with the launch of a four-strong range of oat-based cereals aimed at consumers who don't like porridge but want the health benefits of oats, backed by a £4m marketing push. One brand that failed to profit as much as it might have from the health associations of oats was Ready Brek, which crashed out of the top 20. This came despite a packaging revamp that got rid of the on-pack descriptor 'hot oat cereal'. Research had shown that consumers often misinterpreted it as meaning 'processed'.

Wheat-based cereals are far from finished, however. Kellogg's dominates the market, but the top brand remains Weetabix, which grew 13% to £98.1m. Sales were boosted by its premium Gold version, launched in July. Minis have also had a good year, up 13.7%, and the oat-based offshoot Oatibix looks set for success too.

In second spot, Kellogg's Special K continues to be a strong player and showed slightly stronger growth at 13.6%. The company's flagship Corn Flakes brand managed to hold on to its third place, although sales were in slight decline, down 1.7% to £64.5m.n