There’s no doubt about it: The cereal industry is a difficult one these days. After cereal sales peaked in the 1990s, cultural norms for what’s important about food have changed. Cereal has become a nostalgic item for many people, rather than a go-to for most Americans. The New York Times says that “cereal sales have long been subject to dips brought on by food fads like the Atkins diet or bagel mania. And many cereals are neither gluten-free nor protein-rich, so they fail to resonate with the growing number of consumers who are gluten-intolerant or adherents of the paleo diet.”
However, cereal manufacturers are fighting back with new additions to their lineup that fit the standard of today’s demands. This November, iconic cereal manufacturer Kellogg added seven new cereals to their offerings, including gluten-free options and cereals with more protein and less sugar. Frosted Flakes with Energy Clusters, for example, combines the old favorite with new clusters that pack a punch worth 9g of protein per serving.
There are at least 450 Nebraskans who are happy this week that Kellogg is working to redirect the trajectory of cereal sales. In early August, it was announced that Kellogg will sign a new five-year contract to keep open the manufacturing plants in Battle Creek, Memphis, Omaha, and Lancaster, Pennyslvania. (The old contract would have expired on October 3.) The Omaha plant, which employs 450 workers, was part of a company-wide conflict between union and manufacturer in which a struggling Kellogg brand hoped to cut wages and trim benefits.
However, Omaha labor and economic development leaders worked with Kellogg to avoid closing the Omaha plant: “We are pleased we were able to work with the BCTGM (Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco, and Grain Millers) to agree on a contract that helps ensure our U.S. plants will continue to be more competitive in our global manufacturing network,” said Alistair Hirst, a senior vice president at Kellogg, to the Omaha World-Herald. Under the new contract, Kellogg can change the product lines that the plant manufactures, but will keep the plant open for at least five years. There are a few addendums to existing employee contracts and benefits that were negotiated between the two parties, but both the employees of the plant and Kellogg are happy with the result.
Kellogg has been located in Nebraska since the 1940s, and has a long history of working with Nebraskans to manufacture many products in their wide lineup of cereal brands. A truce is the best-case scenario, because no industry is perfect–including manufacturing. If an industry isn’t doing well, a plant can close, unions can struggle, and a compromise is often the only way to solve the standoff. Manufacturing isn’t a utopia, but in situations like this, it’s important to see that employees and manufacturers are genuinely willing to work together to find the best solution for everyone. Congratulations to Kellogg and the entire Omaha plant, and we wish another five years of continued success!
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