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Kellogg’s ‘cereal for dinner’ controversy and price increases spur calls for a boycott

‘Inflation has continued to rise year over year over year, and they continue to do nothing about it,’ one TikTok user says Days after the CEO of Kellogg’s KLG, +1.02% suggested that inflation-weary families should eat cereal for dinner, some outraged consumers pointed out that the cereal and snack company had raised its own prices in recent years and called for a three-month boycott of Kellogg’s products.

The boycott, proposed on TikTok, would run from April 1 to June 30 and calls for customers to purchase products from other companies in order to send Kellogg’s a message during the second quarter of its fiscal year. They’re also demanding that Kellogg’s lower its prices. 

“There’s no reason for you to jack up your prices the way you did, except to screw us,” one TikTok user said in a video with 2 million views and more than 300,000 likes, and counting, as of Friday. “And you know what? Now we’re going to screw you — while eating some other brand’s cereal.”

“Inflation has continued to rise year over year over year, and they continue to do nothing about it,” added another TikTok user calling to boycott Kellogg’s in a video with more than 655,000 views and 118,000 likes. “First we were told that we drink too much Starbucks. Then it was, stop having so much avocado toast. Now Kellogg’s CEO wants to tell us, ‘Oh, you can’t afford dinner, that’s OK, just buy Frosted Flakes and you’ll be all right.’ Touché there, but I will not be eating Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.”

WK Kellogg Co. CEO Gary Pilnick made the comments that inspired the protests in an interview with CNBC last week. 

“The cereal category has always been quite affordable, and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure,” Pilnick 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.” 

The price of a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit is less than a dollar, he estimated.

Consumer advocates, however, noted that Kellogg’s is among the companies that have raised prices in the past two years, helping fuel higher-than-normal inflation. 

‘Families should not have to make these kinds of choices’ “Kellogg’s CEO found an angle to exploit an industry-driven food-insecurity crisis to bulk up his company’s profits, but everyday families should not have to make these kinds of choices in the first place,” Liz Zelnick, the director of the economic security and corporate power program at Accountable.US, a left-leaning consumer advocacy group, said in an email to MarketWatch.

The solution to what Zelnick called price gouging by the food industry is not for consumers to eat Froot Loops every meal, she said, but for Congress to pressure food companies not to raise prices even as they post near-record profits.