Trend Features
Private Eye: Breakfast Foods

Breakfast Bonanza

Our secret shoppers head to their local retailers to find out what’s happening in breakfast foods.

June 4, 2013

Breakfast foods are a $3.7 billion category with a 10.1 percent private label revenue share in 2011, up 0.1 percent from a year earlier, according to Nielsen records

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compiled for the 2012 PLMA Private Label Yearbook.

There were 1.4 billion units sold in 2011, with a 13.5 percent private label share, up 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

PLBuyer sent five of its secret shoppers to check out breakfast items at an Ingles Markets store in North Carolina, a Walmart Super Center in Colorado and Ohio, a Giant Eagle in Ohio, and a Metro Thriftway in Missouri.

We asked them to evaluate how their local grocers market and merchandise their breakfast food products.

In addition to looking for in-store promotions and advertising, shoppers recorded prices of comparable private label and national brand cold and hot cereal, breakfast bars, and syrup. They then conducted their own product tests in one of these categories.

Here, we provide you with our gathered insight.

Side by Side

All of the secret shoppers this month reported seeing private label breakfast products shelved side-by-side with national brands in some cases. However, only Bill K. on his trip to Ingles Market reported seeing shelf tags comparing private brand and national brand breakfast products.

Additionally, no one reported seeing in-store promotion for private label products, except for Benjamin R. at Wal-Mart Super Center. Bill and Christina R. noted that the private brand packaging was very similar to the national brands.

In every case the private label cereal was more than 50 cents cheaper than the national brand, except at Ingles Markets where a sale on Cheerios brought the price down to 22 cents more than Laura Lynn Tasteeos. The biggest price difference in cold cereals could be found at Metro Thriftway where Michael G. reported the same size Kellogg’s Corn Flakes retailed at $1.70 more than Best Choice Corn Flakes.

At Ingles Markets a sale on Quaker Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal brought the national brand down to the same price as the private brand. Wal-Mart’s Great Value breakfast bars were 50 cents cheaper than Kellogg’s brand and 99 cents cheaper than Kashi.

All of the syrups recorded were 24-ounce bottles. Always Save Pancake & Waffle Syrup from Metro Thriftway was the cheapest of all the options at $1.59. Wal-Mart’s Great Value syrup came in next at $2.14, Ingles Best Syrup was on sale for $2.48 (retail $3.28) and finally, Giant Eagle Original was priced at $3 each.

National brand Aunt Jemima was priced anywhere from $2.98 to $4.35 depending on the store, and Mrs. Butterworth’s Original was $3.69 at Metro Thriftway.

Product Tests

“Tasteeos are indistinguishable from Cheerios,” Bill reported on the cold cereal from Ingles Market.

“When compared to the national brand I had at home, I found the taste of the national brand to be milder and less sugary then the store brand,” Amy said.

“Although it saves only 40 cents, I tried the Best Choice Fruit & Grain apple cinnamon-flavored breakfast bars,” said Michael of the Metro Thriftway brand. “I found them to be as good as the national brand I’ve had in the past: soft, tasty, refreshing and filling.”

Amy K. tried out the Giant Eagle Original Syrup, the highest priced private brand syrup of the products recorded.

“When compared to the national brand I had at home, I found the taste of the national brand to be milder and less sugary then the store brand,” Amy said. “Color and consistency were the same overall, and the packaging is almost identical.”

Christina said she liked Wal-Mart’s Great Value syrup better than brand names because it was not overly sweet, as the brand names were.

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