Consumers call for Kellogg boycott 

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A photo of a cereal isle in a grocery store. In the photo are Kellog’s cereal brands, priced at “3 for $10.”
Kellogg’$ at it yet again. lee lim

The bigger they are, the harder they fall 

In an article aptly named “Let them eat Flakes,” The Guardian included recent comments from Kellogg’s chief executive officer (CEO) Gary Pilnick where he advised those experiencing financial strain and food insecurity to eat Kellogg 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,” Pilnick explained. He proceeded to note that as consumers continue to be “under pressure” when it comes to their grocery budgets, he expects the trend of consumers eating cereal for dinner to continue trending upward.  

The Guardian article notes that “Kellogg’s has been touting its ‘cereal for dinner’ campaign since about 2022, when food prices increased by 9.9 per cent, more than in any year since 1979, according to the US agriculture department’s economic research service.” 

The article also notes information from the Bureau of Labour Statistics showing that cereal prices have increased 28 per cent since January 2020. This calls into question the motivation behind CEO Pilnick pushing for cereal sales at this time, which author Marianne Williamson deemed in an X post to be “exploiting the hungry for financial gain.”  

Content creators have reacted with scorn for both the CEO and company since, with TikTok creators especially up-in-arms about the topic. Kal, a creator by the username @funkyfrogbait, offered a satirical response to Pilnick’s message: “Wait a minute, you’re telling me that your solution to poverty is telling families to feed their kids the sugary, unhealthy, cardboard flakes for dinner that the company that pays you a million dollars a year just so happens to sell?”  

Later in the same video Kal remarks, “Do you want to know what else is sugary, CEO Gary Pilnick? Cake! Guys, bring out the guillotine.” 

Kim Suriyadet, a third-year Biology student at the University of Regina (U of R), noted that she has noticed an increase in grocery store prices. “Before it wasn’t that much, but after COVID it’s kind of increased. So I pretty much spend like, every second-week we go shop for groceries and it’s pretty much $100 each.” Her timeline estimate aligns with the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ report on the timing of price increases. 

An associate professor in Visual Arts at the U of R, Karla McManus, said, “I definitely have noticed the increase in the cost of the things that I buy regularly,” when asked about grocery budgets, grocery trips, and whether she’s had to cut anything out of her regular grocery trips.  

“I always try to buy organic apples because they are one of the number one pesticide-heavy fruits,” McManus continued, “but yeah the price has gone up. So whereas I used to maybe always buy organic things in the fruits and vegetables, now I do a little bit less.” 

Being a regular shopper at a local grocer “because it’s a neighbourhood grocery store and I don’t want it to disappear,” McManus also commented that she has noticed certain items no longer being stocked by the store. “I have noticed things disappearing sometimes from the shelves that I used to buy that they don’t carry anymore. And I don’t know if that’s reflective of pricing issues, maybe they don’t want to sell it anymore because people weren’t buying it, or maybe the way that I shop is different than the average shopper shops at that store. So, there’s nothing really that I stopped buying, except I’ve noticed that some things have disappeared from the shelves.” 

Predating the recent price gouging of companies like Kellogg, McManus shared her unpleasant realization upon moving to Regina from Montreal that grocery costs across the board were higher. “I was in Montreal for 10 years and I had a store I could walk to, and it had a lot of organic things and they were pretty cheap. So, already when I moved here I noticed the cost of groceries was a lot more. It’s not as bad as places in the north, but it’s definitely an example of where we just don’t have the distribution.”  

In CBC coverage from Feb 15, 2023, recent statistics on child poverty rates in Saskatchewan were shared from reporting based on tax filing data from the First Call Child and Youth Advocacy Society.  

Child poverty rates had been on the rise for 25 years and only recently took a downturn with the financial aid offered through the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report notes poverty rates will likely increase again with those supports disappearing, and Saskatchewan will likely retain its position as the province with the third-highest child poverty rate in Canada. Miguel Sanchez, co-author on the report, estimated 55,000 children living in conditions of poverty across the province. 

Saskatchewan families are left amidst a troubling constellation. Grocery prices higher than elsewhere in the country, higher child poverty rates than most elsewhere in the country, and grocery companies like Kellogg increasing the price of their products by nearly a third in just four years. Where do we go from here?  

Creator @tallgirl6234 has taken to TikTok in advocacy of a three-month boycott on all Kellogg’s products – and products of companies related to Kellogg – beginning Apr 1, 2024. “We start this April first, turning April Fool’s Day into Fuck You Fools Day; we’re no longer going to just buy into this bullshit.”  

To justify the boycott, @tallgirl6234 said it’s “to teach them a lesson that our demand is: ‘You raised your prices by 28 per cent. Lower them by 25 per cent, or we’ll keep going.’ For three months you don’t buy Eggos, you buy the store brand.”  

Other TikTok users like Ebby Moyer (@ebbymoyer) have begun making videos that show viewers how to make cereal similar to what Kellogg sells for a fraction of the price with pantry ingredients, demonstrating alternatives for those who do wish to boycott but still hope to have their favourite staples around. 

“There’s no reason for you to have jacked up your prices the way that you did except to screw us,” @tallgirl6234 comments toward the end of her video, “and, you know what? Now we’re going to screw you. While eating some other brand’s cereal.” 

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