Kellogg’s boss says poor people should eat cereal for dinner

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Chief executive Gary Pilnick, who reportedly made $4m (£3.2m) last year, was accused of being out of touch by critics.

By Daniel Binns, news reporter


The boss of Kellogg’s has been criticised for suggesting poor people should eat cereal for dinner to save money.

Chief executive Gary Pilnick made the comments as he described the company’s efforts to appeal to under-pressure shoppers during an interview in the US.

It comes as Kellogg’s, which makes popular cereals including Corn Flakes, Special K and Coco Pops, has been pushing adverts in the US with the slogan: “Give chicken the night off”.



Image:
Gary Pilnick. Pic: CNBC TV

Mr Pilnick told CNBC: “Consumers are under pressure… so we’re advertising about cereal for dinner, if you think about the cost of cereal for a family versus what they might otherwise do, that’s going to be much more affordable…

“In general, the cereal category is a place that a lot of folks might come to, because the price of a bowl of cereal with milk and with fruit is less than a dollar. So you can imagine why a consumer under pressure might find that to be a good place to go.”

But when asked by host Carl Quintanilla if the message could “land the wrong way”, Mr Pilnick replied: “We don’t think so”.

“It turns out that over 25% of consumption is outside the breakfast occasion – a lot of it is at dinner. And that occasion continues to grow.

“Cereal for dinner is something that is probably more on trend now, and we would expect to continue as that consumer is under pressure.”



Image:
Kellogg’s makes cereals including Corn Flakes and Special K. Pic: Reuters

It comes as inflation remains high in many Western nations, particularly with groceries, despite the rate easing in recent months.

The consumer price index (CPI) measure of inflation stood at 4% in the UK and 3.1% in the US last month.

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The interview with Mr Pilnick was broadcast last week but has been widely shared online after critics picked up on his comments – with some even calling for a boycott of the brand.

Among those condemning the remarks was Democratic Party senator Peter Welch, who said: “A worker at Kellogg’s making $20 (£16) an hour would have to work 96 years to equal the $4m (£3.2m) that CEO Gary Pilnick makes annually.

“People don’t need to eat cereal for dinner, they need corporations to stop ripping them off.”

One critic on X said the chief executive “should literally go straight to hell for touting the ‘cereal for dinner’ concept and entire marketing program targeting working families. Absolutely disgusting.”

Another wrote: “These out-of-touch scumbags probably haven’t been inside a supermarket in decades.”

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