THE HEALTH KICK KICKS IN

Sales are sweet for the mostly sugar-laden cold cereals marketed with children in mind. But some retailers expect that is going to change. Indeed, some chains are already noting the growth in healthier "all-family" and "adult" counterparts as evidence of a shift."Nutritional concerns" are leading some consumers toward alternative to the most sugary of the kids' cereals, said Dee Wetzel, a spokeswoman

Sales are sweet for the mostly sugar-laden cold cereals marketed with children in mind. But some retailers expect that is going to change. Indeed, some chains are already noting the growth in healthier "all-family" and "adult" counterparts as evidence of a shift.

"Nutritional concerns" are leading some consumers toward alternative to the most sugary of the kids' cereals, said Dee Wetzel, a spokeswoman for Schnuck Markets, St. Louis.

"All-family varieties, such as Frosted Mini-Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios, have picked up most of the slack in this area. Consumer perception seems to be that even though these varieties are extremely palatable, they offer added nutrition vs. cereals blatantly targeted toward children," she said. The Schnuck representative said high prices are another factor working against some kid's cereal brands.

The items considered strictly for kids still represent more than quarter of the chain's total selection, she added. "Although there have been new additions, the percentage of the department is trading down due to an increase in nutritional and all-family cereal introductions," she said.

"I do know that some people are trying to move children away from children's presweetened cereals and into the all-family segment such as Cheerios, raisin bran, corn flakes, etc.," said John Burger, grocery buyer at Randalls Food Markets, Houston.

"I'm a mom and I think moms are starting to pay more attention to that," said LaDonne Craig, director of procurement at Buehler Foods, Jasper, Ind.

Emily G. Holdstein, senior vice president at Wonder Market Cos., Worcester, Mass., said that while presweetened sales are still strong in her stores, savvy manufacturers have de-emphasized the role of sugar in their cereals. "Sugar Pops are now Corn Pops, Post Super Sugar Crisp is now Post Golden Crisp, Sugar Smacks are now Honey Smacks. I think the manufacturers are aware that sugar is a no-no," she said.