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Kellogg’s CEO says poor families could eat Froot Loops for dinner

The remarks by Gary Pilnick have provoked a caustic social media backlash, with Pilnick facing accusations of insensitivity.

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

Breakfast cereal manufacturer Kellogg is facing a PR firestorm in the US after its CEO, Gary Pilnick, suggested that families struggling to put food on the table should eat cereal for dinner.

The comments, which have been reported by multiple media outlets, have been attacked as insensitive. Many have compared them to the infamous line, “Let them eat cake,” supposedly uttered by Queen Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution, when told of the hunger experienced by many of her subjects.

Pilnick made his remarks on CNBC, while touting a Kellogg marketing campaign that encouraged busy people to “give chicken the night off” and have cereal as an occasional way to both save time and break up the monotony of domestic dinner menus.

[See more: China donates rice to Cabo Verde, where more than a quarter of the population faces hunger]

The campaign does not make a reference to saving money, but when he was asked about rising supermarket prices, Pilnick said “The cereal category has always been quite affordable, and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure … 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.”

Many on social media asked if Pilnick, who made almost US$5 million last year, was himself having cereal for dinner.

A 2022 study found that one in eight US households (or 12.8 percent) experienced food insecurity, or lack of access to a healthy and affordable diet. More than 44.2 million Americans lived in these households.

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