The Grocer’s 2017 Top Products Survey, THE definitive guide to the current state of the UK’s grocery industry

Britain is “hurtling towards a chaotic breakfast” declared shadow chancellor John McDonnell in October 2016, in a slip of the tongue that proved strangely prophetic. Just three months later Weetabix CEO Giles Turrell warned prices for the UK’s favourite cereal would have to rise because of Brexit.

Weetabix wasn’t alone. Faced with surging ingredients costs thanks to the slump in the pound, “all three major manufacturers” have increased their price per kg of cereals this year, says Toby Baker, marketing director UK of Nestlé Breakfast Cereals.

Across the category, branded prices are up 3.1%. But branded price rises have been tempered by a 5.2% price cut for own label. At category level, prices fell by 0.2%. Significantly, overall volumes have dipped by just 0.8%, suggesting that the sector’s long-term decline could be coming to an end. Cereal volume sales have been sliding since 2010.

Own label can claim some of the credit. It now sells for almost half as much as brands. Volumes have surged 8.5% as the supers have expanded ranges and slashed prices to compete with the discounters. Shoppers have responded well. “Branded and own-label performance has improved on the back of continued investment in branded cereals and price deflation on own label,” says Baker.

Kellogg’s enjoyed a resurge in Crunchy Nut and Corn Flakes sales thanks to a new campaign to make its “heritage brands” more relevant to millennials, says UK marketing director Gareth Maguire. The brand worked with social media influencers, formed new media partnerships and launched Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Peanut Butter, which has been a big hit, Maguire claims.

Weetabix, meanwhile, revived its nostalgic ‘Have You Had Your Weetabix?’ strapline for a new TV ad, and launched new fruit-filled Weetabix Additions - a “huge success” says head of brand Kevin Verbruggen. Since hitting shelves in January 2017, they’ve ramped up sales worth a cool £3.7m. Weetabix’s Protein range is also still booming.

Quaker launched a Protein variant this June, and hopes are high for the product. “We anticipate the mainstream popularity of protein to continue, as health remains high on the consumer agenda,” says Eric Williams, Quaker Oats marketing manager at PepsiCo.

The health trend is also driving strong growth for challenger brands. “Brands are becoming increasingly creative to keep up with the changing needs of the consumer,” says Moma founder and CEO Tom Mercer.

Some ‘healthy’ cereals are struggling. Special K has suffered the greatest loss of the year in cereal, its value falling a fifth to £47.4m. How far it’s fallen: in our 2011 Top Products report, it was worth £119.4m and was the sector’s second-biggest brand.


quaker cereals

Quaker Oats To Go by PepsiCo

Bowls are so last century. Today’s young go-getters are far more likely to eat breakfast on the hoof by chewing on a biscuit bar or sucking cereal from a pouch (yes, really). Enter Quaker Oats To Go. It’s a two-part range comprising the biscuit-like Breakfast Square (two variants in microwaveable packaging that allows the product to be heated in 10 seconds) and the pouched Fruit & Oat Squeeze, an ambient yoghurt-based trio. Bang on trend.

Related files/tables

The Grocer Top Products Survey 2017: Up!