‘Let Them Eat Corn Flakes’: Kellogg CEO Gets Toasted for ‘Cereal for Dinner’ Remarks

Feb. 28, 2024
Gary Pilnick, CEO of the new WK Kellogg Co, said on CNBC that cereal could be a more affordable dinner option for cash-strapped consumers. Then all hell broke loose.

If you think consumers have been accepting of last year’s food price increases, think again.

In an interview on a CNBC financial show last week, Gary Pilnick, CEO of the new WK Kellogg Co, made the offhanded suggestion that cereal could be a more affordable dinner option for cash-strapped consumers. Then all hell broke loose on social media.

“Let them eat Corn Flakes” was one headline, channeling Marie-Antoinette. “Anything @KelloggsUS can do to make more money off people during times of crisis,” wrote one user on X. “I wonder what their CEO is having for dinner?”

“Can we just eat the rich for dinner?” asked one commentor on Instagram. Another added, “Excuse me: has he BOUGHT cereal lately? That s*** is expensive.”

We’re skipping some of the more profane messages.

Another X user added, “Cereal for breakfast, lunch or dinner is garbage … for your own health.”

By the way, Pilnick’s annual salary is $1 million plus up to $4.4 million more in bonuses as of September 2023, according to a CNN report, citing SEC filings.

This comes less than a week after a Wall Street Journal story headlined “It’s Been 30 Years Since Food Ate Up This Much of Your Income.” Also while there are Congresspeople, including U.S. Senator Bob Casey, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children & Families, asking for an investigation into food industry greed and especially “shrinkflation.”

In the CNBC interview, Pilnick said the company was advertising cereal for dinner to consumers looking for more affordable options. “In fact, it’s landing really well right now,” Pilnick said. “Cereal for dinner is something that is probably more on trend now, and we would expect to continue as that consumer is under pressure.”

Well, Pilnick is a first-time CEO at a company that’s just been spun off from its roots. “It’s incredibly humbling to carry on W. K. Kellogg’s legacy as CEO of WK Kellogg Co,” he wrote on his LinkedIn page. Humbling, indeed. And a learning experience.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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