by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Cereals

Aug 31 2022

Annals of marketing: sugary kids’ cereals

It’s hard to know what to make of the new products heading for the market.

Here’s one.

The rapper Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr (aka Snoop Dog) is planning to introduce a new breakfast cereal (When?  Sometime soon).

Just what we need.  Another sugary cereal targeting kids.

If a Nutrition Facts label is available, I couldn’t find it online, but I’m guessing 30-40% sugar, and full of color and flavor additives, and super ultra-processed.

But it’s gluten-free and some of the sales revenues will go to support Door of Hope, which advocates for homeless families.

Despite the do-good aura, it’s not what nutritionists recommend, alas.  Well maybe as an occasional treat.

Will Kellogg complain about copyright infringement?  This is clearly a Froot Loops copycat, only with marshmallows—more marshmallows, no less.

Sigh.

Feb 17 2022

Department of home cooking: with breakfast cereals!

When I saw this headline—Beyond breakfast: How Kellogg’s used AI to evolve cereal marketing amid the pandemic—I wanted to know right away how Kellogg is using artificial intelligence to sell more breakfast cereal.

The big data found that now new consumption occasions for cereals have gone beyond breakfast – these are being used in proper recipes for cooking and baking, as a result of increased interest in home cooking and home baking during the pandemic.

Like what proper recipes?

So think of recipes such as fried calamari with Corn Flakes, or using Fruit Loops with pancakes.

Oh.  Hadn’t thought of that.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Jan 20 2022

Mexico confiscates improperly labeled kids’ cereals

What a concept!  A government cracking down on illegally labeled Kellogg kids’ cereals, lots of them.

The Associated Press report of the matter, widely reproduced, does not say which cereals or show photos of the ones that were seized.

Mexico has seized 380,000 boxes of Corn Flakes, Special K and other Kellogg’s cereals, claiming the boxes had cartoon drawings on them in violation of recently enacted laws aimed at improving children’s diets.

These laws put warning labels on foods and beverage high in calories, sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine.  These cover practically all ultra-processed foods.

At the same time, restrictions were placed on the advertising of unhealthy products to children, so that products with warning labels cannot be advertised to children or use cartoon characters.

I’m wondering if some of the seized products violated the law by having cartoons on the package, like this one.

Here is what the boxes of sugary cereals are supposed to look like now.

I want to know more about what got seized.

But how terrific that the Mexican government is taking this public health measure seriously.

Felicidades!

Nov 3 2021

Annals of marketing: promoting snacks

The best way to add unnecessary calories to your diet is to snack.

Snacks are often ultra-processed junk foods; they add calories in ways you don’t notice (“you can’t eat just one”).

Their sellers’ intention is to get you to eat them and not notice.  These are hugely profitable products.

Here are a few recent items about selling snack products.

Will eating “healthier” snacks help you avoid “Covibesity” [referring to pandemic weight gain, I guess]?  Not if they encourage you to take in more calories than you need.

Will eating sustainable snacks make you healthier?  I got an e-mail from a marketer at Mondelez telling me that the company is focusing on sustainable snacks and that a “Mondelez exec also just made presentation at Alliance Bernstein conf. where he discussed there will be more invest in digital marketing personalization to drive sales” [Sustainable snacks have calories, and increased sales mean increased calories].

How about starting your snacks in the morning?  Hershey, America’s largest confection company, is trying to gain market share by rolling out products designed for morning consumption. “We see this as a potential growth lever and way for us to potentially capture more total snacking occasions across all dayparts,” In a press release, the company declared, “Let’s face it, we’re already having morning dessert anyway, so the Reese’s brand decided to make it official. With new Reese’s Snack Cakes, Reese’s fans can enjoy a delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter creme without having to wait until lunch.”

Or, you can just eat candied cereal:

Jun 22 2021

Annals of food marketing: Gay Pride kids’ cereal

Kellogg has issued a new cereal in honor of gay pride month.

Kelloggs Together With Pride Cereal Limited Edition Factory Fresh Box

And here’s what’s on the back.

The side panel gives examples of pronoun options (he/him, she/her, they/them, or add your own).  The top panel is a wrist band on which you can write your own pronouns.

I collect cereal boxes and didn’t want to miss this one.  I could not find it in any of the supermarkets I’ve been to.  I bought this one online,.

But now that I have it, I am not sure what to make of it.

On the one hand: It’s a partnership with GLAAD.  It promotes acceptance, and opposes bullying.  Hard to argue with that.  It also recognizes the market power of the pride community—but to what end?

On the other: This is a sugary, ultra-processed cereal, aimed at kids, no less.

  • The sugars: One serving has 12 grams of added sugars, accounting for 24% of the upper daily limit for sugars and 37% of the calories in this cereal.
  • Ultra-processed: This is the term for food products that are industrially produced, bear little resemblance to the foods from which they were derived, are made with ingredients that can’t be duplicated in home kitchens, are formulated to be “addictive” (“You can’t eat just one”), and are highly profitable.  Overwhelmingly, research shows these products to be associated with excessive calorie intake, weight gain, and chronic disease.
  • Marketed to kids: The cartoon characters signal this.  Kids’ cereals are brightly colored (e.g., Froot Loops), sugary, and marketed with cartoon characters.

Non-binary kids, like all kids, should be eating such cereals in small amounts, if at all.

I was curious to see what the press had to say about it—not nearly as much as I expected.

From where I sit, Kellogg is using gay pride to market its cereals.  This is about marketing.  Period.

Sep 4 2019

General Mills ad: Nutritionism in action

Nutritionism is a term coined by the Australian sociologist, Gyorgy Scrinis, and popularized by Michael Pollan.  It means reducing the value of a food to its content of specific nutrients.

This General Mills cereal advertisement is a perfect illustration of how nutritionism works.

Here is one of the six examples:

Chocolate Chex has more iron than black beans?

This may be a true statement, but it is misleading.

What General Mills is not saying is:

  • Whether  iron is absorbed from Chocolate Chex as efficiently as it is from black beans.
  • What nutrients are in black beans that do not appear in Chocolate Chex.
  • How much sugar Chocolate Chex provides as compared to black beans.
  • Which of these foods is better for your health.

Hence: Nutritionism.

Aug 9 2019

Annals of Marketing: A Sugary Cereal for Toddlers

Coming soon to a supermarket near you: Baby Shark cereal.

I am so out of it.  I never heard of the song, Baby Shark, before seeing this story about Kellogg’s new cereal—aimed at toddlers.

The song, I gather, is adored by babies, less so by their parents, but never mind: it is expected to sell lots of cereal.

I searched for a Nutrition Facts label online, but could not find one (the cereal won’t be available until mid-September, apparently.

I did see this at the bottom corner of the box:

One and one-third cup of this stuff provides 150 calories, 190 mg of sodium, and 15 grams of sugars.  Oh great, 40% of calories from sugars.

Another sugary cereal for kids, this one for little kids!

Do food companies market directly to children?  Yes, they do.

May 9 2019

Annals of international food marketing: Chinese Cocoa Bears?

I was in Beijing a couple of weeks ago and did a supermarket tour.

Here’s my favorite souvenir:

Nestlé (no relation) markets to children, apparently.

I regret being unable to read the nutrition information, but this looks like a standard sugary breakfast cereal, chocolate-flavored.

I’m told this would be considered a snack food, not a breakfast food.

Translation, anyone?