Kellogg continues to get pushback over cereal for dinner idea

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A nutritionist says we need to feel our oats instead

If you’d like to see a cereal company CEO covered in his own Cocoa Krispies, look no further than Kellogg CEO Gary Pilnick. He is facing backlash for suggesting that cash-strapped consumers should eat cereal at dinner to save money. 

In an interview on CNBC, Pilnick defended his position, explaining that Kelloggs’ data shows that more than 25% of cereal consumption occurs outside of normal breakfast hours and that, according to his calculations, a bowl of cereal, with fruit and milk, costs under a dollar. 

Granted, that may make sense numerically, but nutritionally, Pilnick has found himself becoming somewhat of a punching bag for being tone-deaf and not considering the nutritional adequacy of cereal as a dinner substitute. Either wholly by itself or as a side dish alongside eggs, avocados, potatoes, fish, and green leafy vegetables. 

'$8 for a box of cereal and you think you’re doing us a favor?'

Pilnick probably thought his elixir for cash-strapped consumers made sense when he rolled it out on national TV, but he ran into a buzzsaw on social media. That’s where activists established the #LetThemEatCereal campaign, calling for a boycott to pressure Kellogg's and their peers to lower prices and address price gouging. 

True, social media influencers aren’t economists, but they do have the power to well, influence. And millions of X’ers (Twitter) and TikTok’ers have clicked on related posts to see what the protest is all about. If they bought into the movement, that could put a huge dent in the sales of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, and Corn Pops.

While the price of cereal has climbed on the same trajectory that all groceries have, Kellogg’s may want to think what hand it’s playing in that, too. The company claims that its last “substantial” price increase was March 2023. However, reports indicate that the company raised prices 14.7% in the second quarter of last year, and  by 17.1% again in October – giving the company the championship belt for the highest increase among cereal brands.

But, Pilnick may have gotten the message about prices. During the company's most recent earnings call, he said, "We are still working our way through that," suggesting that Kellogg’s is feeling the repercussions of the 2023 price bumps.

No, let them eat oats instead, says one nutritionist

Cereal seems like a quick and budget-friendly dinner option, but it falls short on nutrition and doesn’t offer much balance, and it’s far from an ideal option, claims nutritionist Jabe Brown, founder of Melbourne Functional Medicine.

“If money is an issue, then opting for a bowl of oats for dinner can be a more balanced and nutritious choice compared to traditional cereals, while offering a better nutritional baseline. Oats are not only very cheap but also versatile, allowing for numerous healthy additions that can enhance the meal's nutritional value and taste,” Brown told ConsumerAffairs.

“For instance, incorporating affordable fruits like frozen berries, apples or bananas can add natural sweetness, along with a variety of antioxidants. Nuts and seeds can introduce healthy fats and additional protein, making the meal more satiating and supportive of nighttime recovery processes”

Brown points out that a major advantage of oats is its higher fiber content  which can help regulate blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy.

“So if the kids can get on board, opting for oats plua fruits plus nuts instead of cereal will always be a better choice in regard to nutritional value and price,” he said.

“I think sometimes convenience beats rationality. A bowl of cereal once a week is not an issue. Just try choosing options that are high in fiber, low in added sugars, and made with whole grains.”

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