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Forget eggs, inflation is now hitting the breakfast cereal aisle

What you can do about soaring cereal prices.
General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 17, 2023

We are all familiar with soaring egg prices in the past year.

But there's another grocery aisle making breakfast more expensive: the cereal aisle.

Shopper Kate Swearengin has cut back on the amount of breakfast cereal she buys these days.

"It's expensive," she said. "If you have several children, and the kids don't all eat the same cereal, you're really having a hard time."

While egg prices are finally going down, year-over-year cereal prices are up 14.2 percent, according to the latest CPI numbers.

Many boxes cost well over $5, a result of soaring grain and sugar prices in the past year, made worse by the war in Ukraine (a major grain producer), plus the cost of shipping and labor.

Store brands surge in popularity

Tina Manten handles ordering for Rivertown IGA, an independent grocery store.

"The prices have gone up a lot," she said. "So we try to bring in as much of the store brand types as we can."

She says generics, or store brands, are now flying off the shelves, with some of them very close to popular brands like Cocoa Puffs, Rice Krispies, Froot Loops, and Apple Jacks.

Most of her store brands are less than half price.

For instance, the big-name brand Raisin Bran was $6.79 for a 16-ounce box, while the store brand was just $2.79 for the same size.

"And they are good," Manten told us. "The cereal is good. Sometimes you can't tell the difference."

The e-commerce accelerator Pattern recently collected data on online cereal prices, finding virtually every cereal up in price.

"The macro trend is that everything is up year over year," Pattern's Dallin Hatch said.

However, Pattern's survey found popular cereals like Cheerios and Rice Krispies typically had smaller annual price increases.

Hatch says that's because the bigger brands are usually better equipped for economic disruptions.

"A brand that's doing way more in sales generally speaking year over year, they probably have a way bigger system and pipeline for meeting that demand," he said.

What can you do?

Assuming your favorite cereal is up in price, you have several options besides skipping that bowl of cereal.

  • Check for paper and especially digital coupons before making a purchase. Use your grocery store's app.
  • Check for deals on bigger boxes.
  • Buy larger quantities when they are on sale, since unopened cereal has a long shelf life.

Finally -- give those store brands a try, so you don't waste your money.

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