Cereal killers: Sanitarium to stop production of many iconic Kiwi breakfast foods

Sanitarium has announced a new proposal that could see them scrap the production of all cereals except Weet-Bix and UP&GO. 

Meanwhile, jobs are on the line for almost 50 staff members working for the company. 

The proposal comes as a response to meet demand for changing breakfast trends, and a decline in sales. 

"Breakfast food maker Sanitarium will cease production of its muesli, granola, flake, clusters and puff cereals by June 2025 as Kiwi breakfast eating trends shift consumer demand, under a new proposal," a statement read on Wednesday.  

"If confirmed, the proposal will see the company move to streamline its product ranges to focus on growing iconic Weet-Bix, Weet-Bix Bites and UP&GO brands." 

Sanitarium NZ general manager Michael Barton said the proposal is in response to the changing breakfast market.

He said research showed over 20 percent of Kiwis consume something in the morning besides traditional flaked breakfast cereal, mainly a hot drink, or a portable liquid breakfast.

"Our sales for muesli, granola, clusters, Light 'n' Tasty and puffed cereals represent just 10 percent of sales and have been declining steadily over several years," Barton said.

"The breakfast market is changing, and we have seen a global move away from some cereal formats. We need to align our production with evolving consumer appetites and demand trends."  

Some of the products Kiwis could no longer see on supermarket shelves.
Some of the products Kiwis could no longer see on supermarket shelves. Photo credit: Sanitarum NZ / Supplied

Barton said the granola, muesli, puff and flake cereal production lines, which Sanitarium started producing product on in the 1940s, would require a $28 million building and plant upgrade to sustain production which "is not viable in view of changing consumer preferences and declining sales for this type of cereal format".

The proposed 15-month plan would see production of familiar brand names such as Sanitarium Muesli, Granola, Light 'n' Tasty, Honey Puffs, Weeties, Weet-Bix Clusters, Cluster Crisp and Puffed Wheat, cease by mid next year. 

Popular products Skippy Cornflakes, Ricies, Weet-Bix and Marmite, will continue to be made at Sanitarium's Auckland manufacturing facility.  

The new proposal could see the production of several breakfast foods scrapped.
The new proposal could see the production of several breakfast foods scrapped. Photo credit: Getty Images (file)

"If the proposal proceeds, it would mean the loss of 49 roles across manufacturing, logistics and head office," Barton said. 

Sanitarium says the disestablishment of roles would happen over the next 15 months.

"Our immediate priority is to work through the consultation period with our staff ensuring they are fully supported through this unsettling and challenging time," Barton said.

"We are like a family at Sanitarium and considering this proposal was tough. We are committed to supporting and caring for all our employees."

He added if the proposal goes ahead, impacted staff would receive full entitlements, financial and personal counselling support, along with career support and advice to transition to other employment, if they are unable to transfer to other roles within the company.

"With almost 125 years of continuous operation, Sanitarium remains committed, as a local Kiwi business, to serving our consumers and our communities through affordable, healthy foods and through community support social initiatives."