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Kellogg CEO faces backlash for suggesting people eat ‘cereal for dinner’ to save money

WK Kellogg CEO Gary Pilnick’s cost-saving suggestion of eating cereal for dinner has yet to win over consumers who are feeling the strain of grocery prices.

Pilnick posed buying cereal for dinner to save money on groceries in an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Feb. 21. He was responding to a question regarding how high food prices are and how more than 11% of disposable consumer income goes toward purchasing it, according to the most recent data available at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A clip from the interview is making the rounds online and has been met with what dissenters see as the irony in Pilnick’s proposal.

“The cereal category has always been quite affordable and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure,” the cereal company’s CEO said.

“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,” he added. “We talk about making sure that we have the right pack at the right price in the right place. So having a different sized pack that’ll have a different price point, that’ll take some pressure off the consumer while they’re shopping. So, those are some of the things that we’re doing. But, 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.”

As this portion of the interview circulates online, social media users ripped into Pilnick for suggesting what they feel he would never regularly do himself.

“Greedflation is forcing families to make choices like eating cereal for dinner to save money. Kellogg’s CEO is bragging about it while they show the huge climb in corporate profits that helped create the problem in the first place. F— this sh–,” a critic posted on X.

Pilnick’’s annual salary is $1 million plus up to $4.4 million more in bonuses as of September 2023, per a filing with the SEC. The company reported $651 million in net sales as of Dec. 30, the end of the last quarter.

“Meanwhile, he’s eating at 5 star restaurants every night and when he isn’t, his personal chef cooks him dinner. Absolutely disgusting. Eat. The. Rich,” one person commented on an Instagram post of the clip.

“People: we don’t have dinner, we starving. CEO: then just eat cereals. People: but they expensive. CEO: We hear you! we’re making the packs smaller, so it costs less,” another person commented on the YouTube video.

“Im sorry but who and what ceo would even have the confidence to say something like this? I’m 30 something and cereal for dinner isn’t nutrition. Low income does this for something vs nothing,” another person wrote under the YouTube video.

WK Kellogg did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the full CNBC interview that aired, Pilnick was asked about “the potential” for his cost-cutting solution to “land the wrong way.”

“It’s landing really well right now,” he answered. “Over 25% of our consumption is outside the breakfast occasion. A lot of it’s 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.”

This post appeared first on NBC NEWS

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