Friday, July 01, 2005

Kaun flakes?

On my table lies an "information kit" from Kellogg's India - courtesy of some hyper-efficient PR agency - which states:

"Kellogg India and the Indian Medical Association launch month-long 'anaemia-free India" campaign.

Wonderful. This is all part of a larger plan to have an anaemia free India by the year 2010. A noble objective, given that "90% of adolescent girls, women and children in India suffer from the deficiency".

And what is the solution to the problem? Kelloggs believes that:

a) "One of the most effective ways of communicating the message on the importance of diet in addressing anaemia is through collaborative efforts between health professional associations and the food industry committed to the cause... "

b) "Iron fortification of basic foods is the most essential, economic and convenient approach to address this health condition, as it does not require food habit modifications."

So far, so good. But further into the press release Ms Usha Kiran Sisodia, chief dietician of Nanavati hospital points out: "A typical Indian diet, being largely vegetarian, might not be able to meet the daily requirements of iron due to limited iron-rich vegetarian foods and lower bio-availability of these resources."

She goes on to declare...
"A single 30 g serving of Kelloggs cornflakes, fortified to deliver 25% RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of iron is one of the best vegetarian sources of iron (underlined by them, not me). Moreover it provides 50% RDA of Vitamin C another critical factor that enhances iron absorption."

Never mind that a family of 4 guzzling 30 g of Kellogg's cornflakes a day will end up finishing a 500 gm pack costing Rs 120 in 4 days flat.

A formula which adds to our health and their wealth. As the average household would spend about 900 bucks a month on cornflakes...

Ground realities
I'm no dietician, but surely adding green leafy vegetables to your diet is a far cheaper solution? And 'fortification' of basic food is more easily done in the form of adding shredded paalak or methi to ones atta and dal (we do it regularly).

One of my maids used to have fainting spells - due to anaemia. A pack of dates (khajoor) costing around 10 bucks is what my doctor recommended to her. It is, I am told, the cheapest and most effective source of iron.

Now of course, Kelloggs being a commercial entity will try to have a commercial angle while supporting this 'noble cause' - and not promote spinach or dates. So go ahead, sell us your cornflakes... But try and understand the Indian psyche, so you meet with greater success!

The problem, dear Kelloggs people, is not just that Indians prefer 'hot breakfasts' and all that jazz you told us at the glitzy press conference at the Oberoi rooftop I remember attending circa 1994.

The problem is your cornflakes are too damn expensive. Cellphone usage has jumped exponentially, due to lower rates. So would the popularity of cornflakes -if you cared to bring down the price.

Right now we pick up one 500 gm dabba and eat it with kanjoosi for a month. At 49 bucks a box I bet we'd be OK polishing off a box a week.

And then, all this Iron-Shakti business I'd happily swallow. And so would Indians across SECs.

Till then, can you please pass the paalak paneer?!


  1. Tum ne meri mooh (post-in-the-making)ki baat cheen li. I was on cornflakes type breakfast for a week and I was back at my canteen with hot idli and vada. Iron or no iron, I just cant tolerate corn(y) flakes.

  2. Anonymous2:14 PM

    Have heard that Kellogs is like the worst corn flakes company in US. People don't even bother about it. Looks like they are taking us Indians on a ride.

  3. I have Corn Flakes some once a week(usually on Saturdays when I need to leave home early). They're okay. But I hate such crazy campaigns. It's like saying-"Let everyone have a computer for it is good!". Now that's a crazy thing many people don't have money,even for food!

  4. I read about MM being given away free along with the Times of India and I couldn't help but think about the post you had made a few days back.

    Good job :D

  5. well said Rashmi, there is no selfless corporate activity!

  6. Anonymous9:15 PM

    I think this is just cheap. Imagine the number of people who will be convinced by this. I don't think corporate people will do something for the community. People who OWN such corporate ventures might be charitable, but not the companies themselves.
    Incedentally, my mother had Anamea and the doc recommended Kellogs, and now even I have it everymorning. I always keep complaining the taste sucks...
    And I don't even like Khajur.

    I am NOT the annonymous guy who thinks your writing sucks...

  7. its pretty silly actually-for a country with millions still under the poverty line,we the people choose to discuss something as lame as cornflakes-surely,there are better and more useful issues to be discussed.

  8. well, corporate "community-awareness" campaigns are never altruistic. but i think the IMA should have looked thru the PR blitz and avoided as much advertising as possible. u shud see the kind of stupid ads these food companies make in the US - worse. anyway, yeah... pass the palak paneer around... :)

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. ...and there are quite a few Indian brands of cornflakes which are probably half the price...and i don't think their being Indian robs them of nutritional value.

  11. Actually corporations have been doing such promotional stuff in the name of charity. Remeber during Kargil War? Many a companies said that 1% (or 1/-) of every purchase from us will go to National Fund, etc. They are playing simple profit game by deceiving public, and unnecessarily adding senti value to their apparently nobel cause.

  12. DavidFakeName12:51 AM

    I hate cornflakes. Lentils (dal) are a better all-around source of iron and everything. A vegetarian diet is fine but Indians eat too much white rice and not enough dal that's the main problem.

  13. we have these funny kellog's ideas because of the artificial beings that we have become. Not that cooking dal is very natural, but still its closer to nature than having kellogs or maggie for example. everything else like what dieticians say is crap. The fact is we have forgotten the very meaning ful lesson of being conservative and yes when i say that I mean developing a conserving attitude. when eating is satisfying hunger we talk about eating for taste. And then again starts an addiction of taste and everything else. We hardly do things the way they should be done and we hardly do things for the right reasons.
    Many girls these days want a job to prove something and there are less who want it because thats the way it should be.
    Feminists do things for feminism and thats the reason they suck.
    We need to think about why we do so many things the way we do them. If the reasons are fears (includes insecurities and crisis like the typical feminist notion of insecurity about identity and individuality and freedom and space) or temptations (taste, thrill etc. . ) then things do go wrong. And we see all this intellectual shit.

  14. Ashleyjd12:55 PM

    Corn Flakes is the easiest breakfast one can prepare all it needs is some milk to add thats it.It really helps those who dont have the time or family to prepare the same but price surely is an issue infact the indian Companies too are following the trend by pricing themselves close to Kellogs and this is just disturbing.Kellogs as i have noticed is priced the same in an equivalent currency in other countries too.I ve noticed when i go to muscat i pay the same for it but only thing is that when one spends the same amount in india it pinches his/her pocket.

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