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Take a stroll down the cereal aisle at your local grocery store, and check out the Lucky Charms. General Mills, the cereal’s maker, has an attention-grabbing promotion right now: It’s giving away 10,000 boxes with nothing but those brightly colored marshmallow pieces inside. It raises health and nutrition issues, and also points to some serious challenges facing cereal in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. And that explains one possible reason for this sugar-coated promotion: Cereal sales have fallen 3 percent a year since 2012, the market research firm IBISWorld says. Cereal’s losing out to foods billed as healthier and to breakfast-on-the-go options, like fast food sandwiches. 

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Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy