The icy start to 2010 boosted sales of hot cereal but it wasn't enough to warm up the performance of a category rife with intense promotional activity overall value sales have been static year-on-year at £1.46bn.

Shoppers' desire for warming cereals made Quaker's quick-cook Oatso Simple the star performer of the year, with sales rising 23.6% to £53.1m, while the launch of Weetabix Chocolate in July helped the brand hold on to pole position as sales increased by 1.8% to £104.4m.

Things aren't looking quite so sweet for the own-label market, as deals on brands have pushed sales value down 2.8% to £285m. Promotional activity has also reduced growth across the category but it has reached its peak, says Kellogg's marketing operations and media controller David Walker. "There's more cereal being sold and consumed but the discounting is taking value out of the category," he claims. "There's a lot going on with buy-one-get-two-free. We're not fans, and I don't think it builds the category in any way, shape or form."

Kellogg's has, however, been doing its bit to build the category through extensions to its core brands particularly the more indulgent offerings. Crunchy Nut Clusters outgunned all other rivals, growing sales by £5.8m to £23.8m on the back of a £1.7m advertising push.

Its Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes brand is looking rather soggy by comparison, down 2.8% to £69.2m, but is set to benefit from a kickstart in December. "Our main brand campaign has probably been a bit tired," says Walker. "It's been around for a long time so we think it needs refreshment and reappraisal and that's what we're trying to do for 2011."

Launches such as Weetabix Chocolate, and Kellogg's ultra-indulgent Krave have injected excitement into the cereals market, but will suppliers have as much luck with innovation next year?

"With a focus on health, price, promotion and taste trends I would like to think the answer is yes," says Sainsbury's cereal buyer Keith Black, who expects to see continued growth from hot cereals and for chocolate to increase its importance at the breakfast table.

Whether promotions have reached their peak, he says, will depend on what consumers are willing to spend. "You have to give the right value on the right lines at the right time."

Top launch krave Kellogg’s
Year of the Tiger? Pah. Year of the chocoholic, if the cereal category is anything to go by. In January, Kellogg's showed it was still young at heart with the launch of Krave, a cereal aimed at 16 to 25-year-olds.

The company claims the chocolate hazelnut-filled cereal shells are the first cereal to directly target this age bracket and will tap into what youngsters really want when choosing a cereal taste and enjoyment.

And Kellogg's wasn't messing about. At the time of launch the company said: "There will be absolutely no focus on health or the nutritional value of eating breakfast."

Top Products Survey 2010