Kellogg's can't keep up.

By Tim Nelson
February 14, 2021
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As we inch ever so closer to the one-year "anniversary" of whatever date the reality of the pandemic set in for each of us, it's easy to forget how quickly supply and demand was disrupted in those early days. Sanitizers and disinfectants disappeared from shelves, as did everything from meat to baking yeast. Restaurants and schools shut down overnight, leaving wholesalers with little choice but to dump all sorts of foodstuffs they could no longer sell. 

We've reached a sort of fragile equilibrium since then, but the same shifts and snags that caused last spring's scarcities aren't behind us yet. That would seem to explain why Kellogg has some not-so-gr-r-r-eat news about one of its most beloved cereals.

According to Bloomberg, Kellogg says the last few months have presented fresh supply challenges, particularly when it comes to keeping stores stocked with Frosted Flakes. That news was divulged during Kellogg's most recent quarterly earnings call, where they more or less admitted that they weren't quite prepared to handle the unexpected surge in cereal interest inspired by COVID-19. 

"We weren't planning on growing 25 percent as we entered the year," Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane admitted in an interview, calling the shift in consumer behavior that drove that growth "unknowable." 

Credit: Tim Boyle / Staff / Getty Images

Though our tendencies toward grocery hoarding have started to recede, it still hasn't been easy for Kellogg to keep pumping out Frosted Flakes at a time when production requires at least a little bit of extra caution. In response, they've scaled back on promoting the cereal. Bloomberg hypothesized that the decision is responsible for the cereal's decline in market share over the last quarter of 2020 given how easily people seem to be swayed by cereal ads. 

So lest you thought that Grape-Nuts was the only cereal staring down a shortage, it turns out that things people actually want to eat for breakfast are a bit harder to find these days, too. Hopefully as time goes by and more folks are vaccinated, we can all go back to what we've missed the most: buying copious amounts of Frosted Flakes.