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Justin Fox

The Cereal Industry Had a Very Weird Year

An industry in the doldrums experiences a sudden demand spike while a deadly disease stalks its factory workers. So what’s next?

Will America’s cereal renaissance endure beyond the pandemic?

Will America’s cereal renaissance endure beyond the pandemic?

Photographer: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

When the country began closing up in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic last March, it was clear that keeping food supply chains from breaking down was going to be a big challenge. Shortages of meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and other foodstuffs were feared and in many cases came to pass.

Nobody predicted, though, that the country would run out of Grape-Nuts in early December and not get them back for at least three months. And while the disappearance of Grape-Nuts, a breakfast cereal manufactured by Post Holdings Inc., has been an extreme case, General Mills Inc.’s Cheerios, Kellogg Co.’s  Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes, and Post’s Honeycomb and its various peanut-butter cereals were all also beset by what their manufacturers termed “capacity” or “supply” constraints.