We characterised carbohydrate utilisation of 20 newly sequenced Bacillus cereus strains isolated from food products and food processing environments and two laboratory strains, B. cereus ATCC 10987 and B. cereus ATCC 14579. Subsequently, genome sequences of these strains were analysed together with 11 additional B. cereus reference genomes to provide an overview of the different types of carbohydrate transporters and utilization systems found in B. cereus strains. The combined application of API tests, defined growth media experiments and comparative genomics enabled us to link the carbohydrate utilisation capacity of 22 B. cereus strains with their genome content and in some cases to the panC phylogenetic grouping. A core set of carbohydrates including glucose, fructose, maltose, trehalose, N-acetyl-glucosamine, and ribose could be used by all strains, whereas utilisation of other carbohydrates like xylose, galactose, and lactose, and typical host-derived carbohydrates such as fucose, mannose, N-acetyl-galactosamine and inositol is limited to a subset of strains. Finally, the roles of selected carbohydrate transporters and utilisation systems in specific niches such as soil, foods and the human host are discussed.