Monday, April 30, 2012

Why Kellogg's Kashi Cereals are in Trouble with Consumers

Apparently, Kellogg’s Kashi cereals are not as natural as their advertising and website says they are. Last week, after a Rhode Island green grocer pulled Kashi cereal from his store shelf and posted a note explaining to consumers that Kashi used genetically engineered, non-organic ingredients, hundreds of consumers protested claiming Kellogg was misrepresenting its products’ contents.

Kashi’s general manager, David DeSouza, responded by saying, “The FDA has chosen not to regulate the term natural.” Kellogg defines natural as “food that’s minimally processed, made with no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or sweeteners.”

Sorry, Mr. DeSouza, but that wobbly explanation just won’t cut it with today’s sophisticated green consumers. The problem for Kellogg and Kashi is not with how the FDA defines the term natural. Rather, the problem is with how consumers interpret natural and, certainly, it doesn’t include genetically engineered soy in cereals. This is something any 8th grader would understand let alone a large corporation like Kellogg.

So, yes, Kellogg and Kashi now have a growing credibility problem with their once-loyal consumers because – as Roger Nyhus of Nyhus Communications suggested – they fudged on some very basic terminology used in their advertising and packaging. Natural is natural. It cannot include genetically engineered products or by-products.

If Kashi wants to restore its trust with consumers, they need to move fast and correct the problem by changing the language on their cereal products, apologizing for getting it wrong and provide an incentive to green consumers to come back to their brand. And, let this be a lesson to other companies that play with terminology and language in order to mislead consumers into thinking they too are naturally green.  

About the Author: Thomas Hinton is president & CEO of the American Consumer Council, a non-profit consumer education organization with over 125,000 members. Contact:

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