Cerealnomics part 2:Ukraine and child cereal ethics

When looking at the effects of Ukraine, we have had to as a society and a world face numerous and extraordinarily broad externalities. This coming all the way from exuberantly large gas prices to drops in business output and even the shortages in the supply chain which has caused many of the recurring and abundant resources and inputs we use as the United States to become less accessible, particularly in the timing or manner that which we require. However, when people in the United States were stating issues of goods that would be affected in the supply chain, they probably did not consider their daily bowl of cereal. 

When looking at the conflict in Ukraine, one of the major implications that nations continue to deal with are the disruptions in supply chains and as a result of this factor, a shortage in global grain shortages. We have seen that within the initial year between 2021 and 2022 grain prices rose by an initial value of 3%. This shows how markets are operating in accordance to the current conditions. Markets are as of right no tight. With global consumption of both wheat and corn likely to outstrip supply next year.

With the conditions of supply chains being so strained, consumers are beginning to become frustrated, and rightfully so. The average estimation over the last 5 years is that an average American consumes around 160 bowls of cereal each year. With the current status of the world including the rise in people staying home in regards to the pandemic, sales increased 12% of the past year in comparison to prior years. This begs the question however, what makes cereal so delicious? Is there exuberant amounts of sugar, is the shapes and colors make it become more appetizing than compared to other foods, or is it simply the convenience that cereal brings having a calorically dense breakfast ready in minutes. All of these factors might be true and contribute to the popularity of cereals in the United States. However, there may be a more sinister and underlying strategy that marketers implemented decades ago to trap consumers in a cyclical nature of consumption and trap those with purchasing power in a box that is unknown to them. 

In one primary meta Analysis conducted through the national library of medicine, scientists looked to study the effects of breakfast cereals, specifically in regards to the marketing and advertising components on children. The study specifically examined whether childrens tv exposure was associated with their consumption of those specific brands marketed. This was conducted with Kids in the age range of 3-5 years old. The results of these findings were logical, as children were found to eat more of the cereals they were exposed to. However, the results were not marginal, with the child SBC ads resulting in a 14% increase. But this does not end there as the implications were far beyond simply the data. We could simply take these results and consider recency bias ( the psychological effect of remembering or acting on the most recent thought or idea presented to oneself). However, that would be neglecting the extremely dangerous implications due to the populous examined:children.

The issue with these marketing ploys is that marketing firms by targeting children are taken advantage of their lack of digital literacy and psychological understanding of consumption. These kids are subliminal internalizing these messages and forming beliefs around these cereals which could lead to future decisions which  promote high calorie, low-nutrient food and choices,-resulting in higher rates of childhood obesity.According to healthy teens.org:

 Celebrity and influencer endorsements can sway young people–especially teens– toward unhealthy food and drink choices. In one study, researchers found that popular music stars endorsed 18% of ads in web videos and other platforms surveyed. Of these, 71% promoted sugary beverages, and 81% endorsed unhealthy foods. 

So what are we to do with this information? According to the organization of healthy children, there are a few steps we can take:Turn on and monitor pr​ivacy settings on personal devices, apps, social media, virtual assistants, and wireless networks. Another additional step being to create a Family Media Use Plan with your children to help guide them toward quality media content with fewer ads. Use this plan to talk with your children about data collection and how to be media savvy. In this way you as a parent keep your autonomy over your children and can take some control back from marketing firms looking to profit off your children’s attention. Finally you can talk to school administrators and teachers about avoiding digital products with. Although this is not a direct issue, this is a single line of decisions that can shape the future of the youth in their dietary habits and how they consume and make decisions. WIth the rise of independence and separation of the typical household family nucleus being aware of these issues is more of a necessity than ever.

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