Monday is National Cereal Day. As the official nationalcerealday.com website suggests, too much protein was a big reason for the move toward cereal.
Americans at the time of the Civil War were increasingly plagued with gastrointestinal issues due to their unhealthy, meat-based diet. Reformers of the 1860s viewed too much meat consumption as unwholesome, both physically and spiritually. It was believed by some that a high-protein diet contributed to lust and sloth and that constipation and other maladies of the gastrointestinal tract were God's punishment for too much pork and beef.
In the 21st century, however, it appears protein is coming back strong, taking back market share from typical cereals.
Cereal sales have slumped while more protein-heavy foods have taken over. According to Nielsen sales data, ready-to-eat cereal sales have declined an average of 3 percent per year for the last three years. But what's up? Basically everything else in the breakfast world:
12.6 percent eggs
10.5 percent frozen breakfast sandwich
9.6 percent refrigerated breakfast entree
7.6 percent instant breakfast
5.0 percent breakfast meat
4.4 percent frozen breakfast entree
1.8 pert hot cereal
In 2012, Americans bought $9.6 billion worth of ready to eat cereal, according to Nielsen. That was huge compared with just $5.1 billion of eggs. But just three years later, that gap has closed considerably. Cereal sales were only $8.75 billion, versus $7.3 billion for eggs.
Eggs are high protein and gluten free, and in 2015, who doesn't like that? And that doesn't include the huge growth in Greek yogurt sales. And here's what else is growing: breakfast sausages, doughnuts, sweet goods, muffins, bagels and deli breakfast foods. It's basically every breakfast category that Nielsen tracks — except traditional cereal.
One way of combating the fall in cereal is for major companies to push the protein concept directly on the boxes, like this: