America's Most Popular Breakfast Cereals (And the Stocks Behind Them)

Cheerios? Frosted Flakes? Raisin Bran? Kellogg, General Mills, Post and Quaker rake in billions of dollars a year in cereal sales. Who's No. 1?

Milk stream pouring into a bowl with ?ornflakes close-up. Milk splash on a cup with flakes macro on a blue background.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Breakfast is big business. Americans gobbled up $8.5 billion worth of ready-to-eat cereal over the past year, according to IRI, a market research firm. Just four companies – General Mills (GIS (opens in new tab)), Kellogg (K (opens in new tab)), Post Holdings (POST (opens in new tab)) and Quaker Foods, a division of PepsiCo (PEP (opens in new tab)) – collectively accounted for $7.3 billion of those sales.

Although cereal sales have been stagnant of late – down 1.4% year-over-year – growing interest in cereal as a snack among younger consumers could goose demand. Market research firm Mintel found that 56% of millennials say they've eaten cereal as a snack at home, compared with just 32% of baby boomers.

"While breakfast is the most common occasion for eating cereal and nearly universal across age groups, snacking on cereal may offer greater potential for reinvigorating category growth, especially among younger adults," says John Owen, an analyst with Mintel.

So which cereal brands are Americans buying the most? Take a look at the list of the 19 most popular cereals in the U.S. to find out.

IRI (opens in new tab) retail sales data is for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 12, 2018. Figures represent individual brand listings. For example, Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios are tracked as separate brands, rather than being rolled up into a single “Cheerios” brand. Cereals are ranked in reverse order by annual sales.

Dan Burrows
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com