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LET THEM EAT FLAKES: Kellogg’s CEO under fire for saying Americans should eat cereal for dinner to save money amid inflation
By Cassie B. // Mar 01, 2024

The CEO of Kellogg’s, Gary Pilnick, has come under fire after suggesting Americans save money in the face of rising food prices by eating cereal for dinner. His comments come at a time when Americans are spending the highest percentage of their income on food in decades at 10%, while the average family spends more than $1,000 per month on groceries.

He made the comments during an interview with CNBC, noting: “The cereal category has always been quite affordable, and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure. We gotta reach the consumer where we are, so we're advertising about cereal for dinner."

Never mind the fact that Kellogg’s highly processed cereal does not resemble actual whole food in any way, is largely devoid of nutrition – unless you count the vitamins that are used to artificially enrich it – and most types have a shockingly high amount of sugar and are loaded with glyphosate. Some of their products include Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies.

He added: "When you think about the cost of cereal for a family versus what they would otherwise do, that's gonna be much more affordable."

That may be true, but it’s also more affordable than many healthy dinners to hit up the dollar menu at McDonald’s or buy a bag of Doritos and a 2-liter bottle of Coke and split that among the family – but no one should be doing that, either.

When his interviewer suggested that this suggestion could “land the wrong way” with Americans, who are now spending 26% more on their groceries than they did three years ago, he insisted that the campaign is doing well.

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Not surprisingly, social media had a field day with his comments and the “cereal for dinner” advertising campaigns, with many wondering what Pilnick is having for dinner.

"I'm sorry but Kellogg's new campaign ads 'cereal for dinner' sounds like we have a serious poverty problem in America, and this is the solution to capitalize on it," one user wrote.

Regulatory findings indicate that Pilnick earns an annual base salary of $1 million plus more than $4 million worth of incentive compensation.

Cereal is not that cheap these days – and families can make better choices for the same price

Not only is the suggestion to replace meals with junk food insulting, but cereal isn’t even the cost-effective solution he claims it is, especially not Kellogg’s. A family-sized box of cereal is around $10 in many stores, and with a gallon of milk pushing $7 in many parts of the country, this meal is not as cheap as Pilnick is making it out to be and certainly not worth sacrificing your health when you could make far healthier choices to feed a family for the same amount of money.

In fact, many people have pointed out that their “cereal for dinner” ad campaign’s tagline – “Give chicken the night off.” – is poorly chosen as many cuts of chicken are sold in bulk for a cheaper price than cereal, and are much more nutritious.

One user wrote: "Cereal is almost 9 dollars a box now. I can get a rotisserie chicken, rice and a bag of frozen broccoli for that.”

Consumer Price Index data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that cereal prices rose 6% in 2021 and 13% in 2022, while Kellogg’s raised its prices by 12% in its latest fiscal year. Many people are slamming the company for taking advantage of food insecurity and inflation to sell more of their unhealthy “food,” and some are saying they can no longer afford cereal for breakfast, much less dinner.

Self-help author Marianne Williamson wrote on X: “Advertising to hungry people that cereal might be good for dinner is not ‘meeting people where they are'. It’s exploiting the hungry for financial gain.”

Sources for this article include:





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