As other cereals evolved, new takes on the whole wheat flakes brand didn’t catch on from Honey Frosted Wheaties in the mid-90’s to more robust versions like Wheaties Energy Crunch in 2001 to Wheaties Fuel, which, despite big endorsements from Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols and Kevin Garnett, hasn’t gained any traction in the two years it has been on the market.
Excluding sales at Walmart and convenience stores, Wheaties Fuel sales numbered a measly $5.2 million over the past year, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.
In total, yearly Wheaties sales has brought in $38.7 million, down 18.6 percent versus a year ago. Total boxes sold are under 10 million, down 22.5 percent, meaning roughly 4,000 fewer orange boxes are being sold in the US per day than were being sold just three years ago.
Industry insiders have speculated that Wheaties, like Corn Flakes, wasn’t healthy enough for the Fiber One crowd and wasn’t bad enough for those who wanted to eat Lucky Charms or Frosted Flakes.
“It’s OK to be healthy, but they just haven’t stood out,” Moritz said. “Cheerios has successfully rolled out new flavors and Special K has latched on to fitness consumers and the women’s market.”
Wheaties parent company, General Mills , reported earningson Wednesday, with shares trading down on the news that consumers were buying less because of the higher retail prices to make up for higher commodity costs. Stars of the portfolio of General Mills, which owns 32 percent of the US cereal market, including Honey Nut Cheerios, Peanut Butter Multigrain Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch have helped stem further losses. (Track GIS Stock and News Here.)
Executives with General Mills declined to comment on this story.
Wheaties was invented in 1922 by a health clinician in Minnesota, who accidentally spilled a wheat mix on a stove. When the product hit retail, it was sold by General Mills predecessor Washburn Crosby as Washburn’s Gold medal Whole Wheat Flakes. The name was soon changed to Wheaties.