WILD OATS

It's been quite a year for cold cereal -- a bit rough for national brands; somewhat exhilarating for private labels. First, 12 months ago General Mills announced plans to cut promotional spending and prices. Next, in June, the same company temporarily suspended shipment of its products containing oats because a contractor improperly treated the oats with a pesticide not registered with the Environmental

It's been quite a year for cold cereal -- a bit rough for national brands; somewhat exhilarating for private labels. First, 12 months ago General Mills announced plans to cut promotional spending and prices. Next, in June, the same company temporarily suspended shipment of its products containing oats because a contractor improperly treated the oats with a pesticide not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Then, last month, two congressmen accused the top four cold cer

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