| Striking Kelloggs worker December 2021 | MR Online Striking Kellogg’s worker, December 2021.

‘Let them eat flakes’: Highest food costs in 30 years

Originally published: Struggle-La Lucha on March 2, 2024 by Gary Wilson (more by Struggle-La Lucha)  | (Posted Mar 04, 2024)

Grocery bills are taking a bigger bite out of workers’ paychecks than they have in decades. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the percentage of pay taken for food purchases last year—both at supermarkets and at fast food restaurants or pizzerias—is the highest since 1991, more than 30 years ago.

By the end of 2023, workers were paying more than 23% more for the same basket of groceries as they were in 2021.

In response, Kellogg’s CEO Gary Pilnick suggested that poorer families eat breakfast cereal for dinner as a more affordable option. Kellogg’s has launched an ad campaign suggesting you “give chicken the night off.”

Of course, as CEO Pilnick never has to buy cornflakes at the supermarket, he might have noticed that Kellogg’s cereal isn’t so affordable.

The price of a box of flakes has gone up 24%. And while the size of the cardboard box is the same, the contents have shrunk. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes “family size” of 24 ounces is now 18 ounces. They call that shrinkflation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of store-bought food increased by 23.5% from February 2020 to May 2023. The average hourly wage for all workers in the private sector has risen 17.1%, not enough to keep up with inflation.

Production workers at Kellogg’s start at about $11 an hour. On strike at the end of 2021, one Kellogg’s worker explained, “We feed all these families, but I can’t feed mine.” CEO Pilnick got over $13 million last year (base pay+bonuses+stock options); he’s never missed a chicken dinner.

Doesn’t it remind you of the French monarch Marie Antoinette and her starving subjects: “Let them eat cornflakes”?

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