Shifting Tastes and Challenges in the UK Breakfast Cereal Market - 2023

In 2023, the landscape of the UK breakfast cereal market is undergoing a noticeable transformation. Recent research from Mintel reveals intriguing insights into the choices and preferences of breakfast cereal consumers.

The study, "Breakfast Cereals - UK - 2023," highlights evolving trends, challenges facing the industry, and the delicate balance between health-conscious choices and indulgence. This article will delve into the key findings of the report and explore the implications for the breakfast cereal market in the UK.


Shifting Tastes: From Plain to Sweet

One of the most significant changes in breakfast cereal consumption is the shift in taste preferences. Mintel's research reveals that half of breakfast cereal consumers now opt for plain variants, which is a 5% drop since 2021.

This change has not led to a corresponding rise in the use of non-plain variants; instead, some previous dual users are turning away from plain cereals. This shift toward sweeter taste profiles is further highlighted by a 3% increase in the usage of frosted cereals. It seems that consumers are increasingly looking for a touch of sweetness to kickstart their day.

Ready to Eat (RTE) Cereal Brands: a challenging year

The year 2022/23 has presented significant challenges for the leading ready-to-eat (RTE) cereal brands. Despite the UK's enduring love for cereal, all top brands are facing stagnant or falling volume sales. The primary culprit is the ongoing income squeeze, which has led consumers to explore more budget-friendly alternatives.

Although own-label cereals have gained market share, it is concerning to note that even these more affordable options are not compelling enough to prevent consumers from reducing their cereal consumption.

Industry Commitment to Health

In response to the growing concern over the health implications of breakfast cereals, the industry is taking steps to address these issues. Recent New Product Development (NPD) initiatives are focused on reformulating existing variants and launching new High in Fat, Salt, and Sugar (HFSS)-compliant options.

This industry commitment to improving health credentials is an important step in the right direction, indicating progress within the space.

Expanding into On-the-Go Snacking

In addition to breakfast consumption, breakfast cereal brands are exploring opportunities in on-the-go snacking. Snack bars and single-serve pot concepts have become established means for these brands to cater to busy consumers.

Furthermore, there is potential in offering standalone snack packs of cereals to address the need for convenient, portable options. Mintel's research shows that 36% of users and buyers report snacking on dry breakfast cereals, with even higher numbers among younger age groups. This suggests that there is a considerable market for cereal-based snacks, which can be a win-win for both consumers and brands.


The UK breakfast cereal market in 2023 is marked by changing consumer preferences, challenges for traditional brands, and an increasing emphasis on health and convenience.

While indulgent options remain a part of the equation, brands are under growing pressure to enhance their health credentials. The decline in the cereal category opens doors for innovation, particularly in the realm of on-the-go snacking, to cater to the evolving tastes and needs of today's consumers.

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