For decades, American retailers and experts extolled the virtue of shoveling processed grains into your digestive system every morning. But the age of cereal is over, a decline marked by junk food giant Kellogg "ditching its cereal business" [Bing copy], as the Wall Street Journal describes the company's decision to split into two parts.
In recent weeks, executives from Kellogg and Post both separately said that they expect the cereal industry to return to its pre-pandemic trend of gradual decline, with sales ranging from flat to down by a low single-digit percentage per year.
What is to be done? Kellogg, the home of faded but possibly still iconic cereal ambassadors Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam, has the most radical solution: Make it somebody else's problem. Next month, the company will spin off its North America cereal division into an entirely new company, to be named WK Kellogg after its founder who invented modern cereal over a century ago. This will leave Kellogg's top management to focus on the more attractive snacking segment, with brands such as Pringles and Cheez-It, at a company renamed Kellanova.
One of the interesting things about the reportage is it still casts food like eggs as "dangerous" and buckets of sugar, milk and maize as "heart-healthy." You don't have to be a paleo nut to see that that faith they have in this aesthetic of dietary science is unshakeable: even the "market correction" going on, usually the stuff of paradigm shifts for that whole neoliberal cohort, comes with a plethora of stock stories ("millennials killing cereal now", "post-pandemic YOLO comes to breakfast") to narrate it with. They coldly panic when they see their grandchildren eating bacon. They celebrate hitting their 70s by saying "Cocoa Pebbles saved me from heart disease!" to the surgeon about to saw their legs off.