Saturday, December 12, 2009

Squeezing the Sugar Out of Breakfast Cereal

It took a supply squeeze on sugar to make it happen, but still, the amount of sugar in breakfast cereal is about to fall.

General Mills says it’s planning to cut the sugar in some of its most popular breakfast cereals to single-digit levels, which in practice appears to mean 9 grams per serving. That might not sound like a reduction, but Lucky Charms, for example, currently has 11 grams of sugar in a 27-gram serving. After cutting this to 9, the cereal will still be one third sugar. Competitors Kellogg and Post have also been notching down the sugar levels in their cereals, and will probably follow General Mills’ lead into single-digit territory.

It couldn’t be a coincidence that these moves come at a time when a supply squeeze has increased the price of sugar. Cereal manufacturers put so much sugar in their products in part because it was the least expensive ingredient. Now that sugar and grains cost about the same amount, they won’t be paying extra to put in less sugar and more grain.