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
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.


A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.


Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.


In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.


Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.


Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.