Why is most cereal inside a plastic bag inside a cardboard box, when it doesn’t seemingly need the cardboard box?


Why is most cereal inside a plastic bag inside a cardboard box, when it doesn’t seemingly need the cardboard box?

In: 4464

The box keeps the bag from getting crushed so your cereal isn’t dust by the time you get it.

The bag protects it from moisture and oxygen, the box protects it from (mild) crush and cut damage during shipping.

Some brands around here do forego the box and just ship in a bag – and I have accidentally purchased bags that were cut open and stale.

The bag stops the cereal from going stale, because a cardboard box isn’t airtight. The box keeps the cereal from getting crunched to bits, and is probably better for advertising (boxes can stand upright on a shelf for more visibility, bags cannot). Hence, box + bag.

Protects the cereal inside and marketing. Easy standing boxes with flashy graphics look better than a bunch of sacks laying all floppy on a shelf.

A few reasons come to mind.

Tradition: it’s the way it’s always been done. It’s what everyone else does. Why rock the boat?

Risk/Cost: Any change would be a risk. Would the money saved in packaging be offset by losses from people not liking change? How much would it cost to retool their factories to print on the plastic bags? Do they need to be different plastic bags or can we use the same ones? Can we pack the same amount on a truck?

Stigma: Currently the cheaper cereals come in bags. Puffed rice, puffed millet. Store brand stuff. We don’t want our brand associated with that stuff.

Aesthetic: We can print nice big, flat, advertising on the box. It’s easy to read and stands out on a shelf. Bags are just piled up in a bin. So the other guy’s cereal is being displayed prominently while mine is stacked up on its side.

Boxes stack better and shelve better. Cereal weighs a lot more than potato chips. Think how hard it is to shelve potato chips? Now imagine the chips in each bag were heavy enough to crush/pop other bags when handled carelessly. Also, branding on a box works better for cereal, because you want certain things on the front and back and certain things on the sides and top. Printing all that stuff on a bag is less ideal.

Edit: Bag, not back.

The box makes them easier to stack on pallets and store shelves, and the upright box just looks better than the plastic pillow of sadness.

Also breakfast is a hoax.

increase production costs to offset handling costs.

Boxes are easier to handle, ship, and store.

The bag protects things from air and water, while still being easy to open

The box protects the bag from getting torn open in shipping. Also probably does something to minimise crushing

In addition to the other comments- Marketing, more space for cartoons on an upright box to grab kids attention and ask their parents for it

Hey kid! Which looks more like something you’d buy:

* This bag of dry crunchy bits that looks like the same stuff the cat eats, and is sitting in a pile of similar bags in a wire bin, orrrr….
* This big box that has a cartoon tiger on it, and smiling kids and a GIGANTIC bowl of cereal with HUGE marshmallows on it, has a crossword puzzle and a maze on the back, and when you shake it, you know there’s a special prize inside, because the box tells you so?


* Advertising / shelf presence. Bags don’t stand upright, so you have less attract value for the kids. A physical box with a flat surface that invites drawing on once you get it home is not just cereal, it’s a new toy! Also, the closeup of the cereal bowl makes the contents seem bigger than they actually are. Which leads to…
* Truth in advertising obfuscation. Sure, that box is big, but the top third is nothing but air. The box might say ‘contents may have settled during shipping’, but since you can’t see how much cereal you’re actually getting in the box, you aren’t going to think twice about paying for the giant box of cereal versus looking at the smaller bag and thinking, ‘that’s a bit steep.’ We think ‘bigger container’ = ‘more contents’, but check out the cereal boxes next time and you’ll see some of them are skinnier than others when you turn them sideways. (Shampoo bottles are the biggest offender here, as well as computer games that had a giant box when there was only a CD-ROM inside….)
* The Cracker Jacks Effect – If you don’t know what the toy is, you’ll buy it because your fantasy is better than the reality. If you can see the toy through the bag and see that it’s a cheap plastic thing or a packet of stickers… you might change your mind. (Edited to add that apparently toys in cereal is no longer a thing in some places in the world. Can you tell I don’t have kids?)

I like the box! Keeps storage nice and neat. The real question is why can’t the bags have a freakin zip lock??

It’s probably just a cultural thing and depends on where you are. For example, all cereal here in Japan is packed in plastic bags.

I would argue that a proper cardboard box would eliminate the need for any plastic and thus be much better for the environment.

I would never have gotten that record of the Archie’s hit single Sugar Sugar if it wouldn’t have been for the box.