Pancake Mix

I was cleaning out my study and found a copy of a report I worked on while doing my MBA: the dry pancake mix market. I had a lot of fun doing the market research, scanning through IRI data, and the user surveying. It’s be a shame not to share with you, what I learned about the industry:

  • The industry can be traced back to 1889 in St. Joseph, MO, when Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood bought the Pearl Milling Company with the idea of developing ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour. While attending a vaudeville show, they heard the catchy tune “Aunt Jemima,” and decided that would be the image of their product. They ran out of capital and sold it to Davis Milling Company the following year. Davis Milling sold to Quaker Oats in 1925. (Quaker is now owned by Pepsi.)
  • Other notable companies:
    Company* Headquarters Date Brand
    Little Crow Foods Warsaw, IN 1919 Fast Shake
    General Mills Minneapolis, MN 1931 Bisquick
    Continental Mills Tukwila 1932 Krusteaz
    Pilsbury Minneapolis, MN 1935 Hungry Jack
    General Mills Minneapolis, MN 1947 Betty Crocker
    Aurora Foods St. Louis, MO 1961 Mrs. Butterworth’s

    This gets really tricky to track because of all the multiple brands, company consolidating and divestiture going on. Examples:

    1. Pillsbury was acquired by Grand Met in 1988. Grand Met then merged with Guinness to form Diageo. Diageo had trying to spin out its non-beverage units and, in November 2001, received approval for General Mills to acquire Pillsbury.
    2. Follow that? Well, then I should tell you that Aurora Foods, whose business model was acquiring orphaned brands, acquired the Mrs. Butterworth’s brand from Unilever in 1996. (They also owned Log Cabin syrup, Duncan Hines bread mixes, and Lender’s Bagels.) As part of Aurora Foods’ subsequent bankruptcy reorganization, they agreed to merge with Pinnacle Foods in NJ.
    3. Still with me? Did I mention that Aurora Foods produces the frozen Aunt Jemima breakfast products?
  • To avoid getting sucked down the brand tracking rathole, I stuck to dry pancake mix. Not cakes. Not frozen. Not moist. (La la la la.) Companies own multiple brands. For example, General Mills owns heavyweights Betty Crocker, Hungry Jack and Bisquick. That, I could track.
  • The total retail breakfast food market, whihc includes frozen foods, breakfast bars, cereals and pancakes, is about $11 billion. The dry pancake mix market accounts for about $160 million of this. For comparison, the annual sales of plain Cheerios is $160 million.
  • There are over 150 manufacturers of dry pancake mix. Four of them, Pepsi, General Mills, Continental Mills, and Aurora Foods, do 90% of the sales. Pepsi’s Aunt Jemima comprises the largest chunk of the market (35%), though it accounts for less than 0.25% of Pepsi’s annual revenue.
  • Most of the “lower 130” are small, boutique brands that are very localized and capitalize on the experience of visiting a place, often a B&B or resort. Think fancy packaging, premium price. In a couple of cases where they’ve exceeded $1m of revenue, they’ll get sucked up by one of the big three.
  • Pancake mix sells better than average in families and where annual income is at least $40k. Not surprisingly, it does not fare very strongly among SINKs and DINKs
  • Bisquick is generally the cheapest of the “big” brands. Aunt Jemima and Krusteaz are the most expensive.
  • Buttermilk is the most popular flavor. Chicken Gummy Bear Mint is the least popular flavor. (Okay, I made that last one up, but it’s very disgusting.)

I prefer the sourdough hotcakes, and when I don’t have the time, I’ll make this recipe:

Pancakes —
1 C whole wheat flour
2 t baking powder
1/r t salt
2 eggs
1 T sugar
1 C milk
1 T vegetable oil

  1. Mix the dry ingredients separately.
  2. Mix the moist ingredients separately.
  3. Combine them, stirring with a fork until the major lumps are out.
  4. Pour dollops onto a medium-hot, buttered pan. Cook until bubbles start percolating toward the top, then flip. Cook a few more minutes then serve.

I do occasionally buy mix when my kids want to help out and I don’t want them destroying my kitchen.

16 thoughts on “Pancake Mix”

  1. > does not fare very strongly among SINKs and DINKs

    Isn’t there a LAW that fathers have to make their kids pancakes for breakfast on either Saturday or Sunday? My dad did it, everyone’s father I know did it, I mean EVERYONE. I’ll be starting it soon…

  2. What flavor? Buttermilk was the most popular followed by blueberry.

    Our “angle” on this was something a little different like chocolate chip.

  3. > The others sound gross

    I thought the chocolate chip variety was disgusting, though my kids claimed to love it and picked out all the dark bits.

  4. where did you find all your pancake info at? I am doing a project for my marketing class at Ball State and I am not finding any statistics on the industry of pancake mixes.

  5. Where did you find all your pancake info at?

    I got the names of some of the pancake mixes by trolling grocery stores. Next, I contacted companies, looked at corporate financial statements, and reviewed IRI (grocery store scanner) data. Demographics data was inferred from IRI data applied to census tracts.

    I’d start with the big four since they comprise over 90% of the market share. The other 100+ are small or regional players, often associated with a bed and breakfast or resort.

  6. I’m doing a group marketing project in which we have to reposition a grocery item and prepare a marketing plan, and we chose Aunt Jemima pancake mix… i found the info you have here to be useful but i was wondering if you know where i can find stats on market share and company sales figures for this industry. Any info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  7. Becky:

    I used IRI scanner data for market share. It’s easiest if you pick a couple of target regions — as this industry is very regional in nature. Company sales figures required a lot of poring through financial statements and D&B info, though I tried to back-check it with the IRI information. There are also analysts who track these things in regular reports; For academic use, are willing to sell a subset at a modest (for research) cost. (I didn’t pursue this option because I had a lot of information already and was close to finishing.)

  8. I’m doing a research/term paper on pancakes, crepes, and other goodies of that kind, so !thank!!you! for this gem of stats!

  9. Hi Jim,

    I don’t know if recieved my previous e-mail. But here is the story. I am a marketing student at College of the Desert in Palm Desert California. I was assigned to do a marketing analysis on the dry pancake mix industry. I surfed the net over and over and was not able to find current information specifically market size and brand market size of leading pancake brands. The main brand that I am researching is Aunt Jemima. I read your article and hoped that you could help me or direct me to some resources that may help me with this project. Thank you so much.

  10. I found your information to be very interesting. At the present time I’m taking a business course and we had to do a project on a company of your choice. Because everyone else did their projects on Walmart, BJ’s, Sony, IBM, Macy’s and the list goes on. I was bored so I decided to do my research on Aunt Jemima. My project is due on Monday I’m more than sure I will get an A. Thank you for the extra information.

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  11. Alex Gerieux

    Interesting that the big 3 will swallow up an “up and comer” that might threaten sales. There is one mix that I’m partial to down South called Aretha Frankensteins, a boutique brand. I can see them getting swallowed up (no pun). But seriously, do these little guys really threaten the big guys? When they buy them out, do they kill the product or keep selling it under their label? This kind of “Market Darwinism” intrigues me.


  12. What are the other 130 companies that make the pancake mix. I’m looking for not so big companies that produce it.



    and….my dad used to make pancakes with peanut butter. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    1. I dug out the paper and didn’t see the list of smaller companies – kind of makes sense since the top six were 93% of the market. Most of the smaller companies are small players like “Salish Lodge” (which used to be Snoqualmie Falls before being acquired by Continental Mills). They try to capitalize on the ambience of the lodge.

  13. Three words “Bob’s” “Red” “Mill”. (

    Actually I can endorse other Bob’s products (like their garbonzo flour) but I’ve never tried their pancake mixes (which there are many). It’s not that hard to make them from scratch!

    Now Bran muffin’s — there is a story I could tell about Jim and bran muffins.

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