Are Rice Krispies Discontinued? Cereal Shortage, Explained

Rachel Curry - Author
By

Feb. 7 2022, Published 12:52 p.m. ET

Cereal giant Kellogg Company (K) has faced challenges since workers went on strike in 2021. While the strike ended on December 21, 2021, after 77 days, the company is still facing issues surrounding product availability. One flagship product, Rice Krispies, is dealing with a shortage. Why is there a Rice Krispies shortage?

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Here’s why you might be having trouble finding Rice Krispies treats or cereal. Is Kellogg’s thinking about discontinuing the iconic product?

Why is there a Rice Krispies shortage?

In December 2021, 1,400 Kellogg’s workers signed a collective bargaining agreement adhering to new terms that would provide better working conditions and compensation for employees. The agreement ended a 77-day strike that made waves in the industry and helped advocate for unions and worker rights beyond Kellogg’s, led by CEO Steve Cahillane.

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Because the strike was so long and so extensive, Kellogg’s had difficulty keeping up with production. Some products have experienced a temporary shortage, including Rice Krispies.

On Feb. 5, more than a month after the collective bargaining agreement, Kellogg’s announced a temporary shortage of brands like Rice Krispies. The shortage is a direct result of labor shortages from the worker strike and supply chain issues.

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In addition to the worker issues, Rice Krispies has struggled to get its key ingredient—barley malt extract. One of the world’s many bottleneck issues plaguing the supply chain traces back to the availability of malting-quality barley. According to Proximity Malt, North American companies are getting the ingredient from Europe and Australia to fill the gap until the 2022 barley crop is ready. Kellogg’s isn't immune to this issue. The company has also faced internal issues that slowed down production for months.

This double-edged sword has made producing Rice Krispies an even greater challenge for the cereal giant.

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Will Kellogg’s discontinue Rice Krispies?

In 2021, Kellogg’s faced a lawsuit against its strawberry Pop-Tarts, which plaintiffs said didn't actually contain real strawberry ingredients. Still, strawberry Pop-Tarts live on, as does Kellogg’s Rice Krispies products.

In July 2020, Kellogg’s discontinued Rice Krispies Treats cereal, which is basically a cereal version of the iconic marshmallowy Rice Krispies Treats. However, the original snap, crackle, and pop cereal remains available, as does its Treats counterpart.

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When will the Rice Krispies shortage end?

Rice Krispies isn’t the only Kellogg’s product experiencing a shortage. Other cereal products, like Special K, Crispix, Vector, and Cracklin’ Oat Bran, are also struggling to meet demand.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans increased spending on cereal products by a lot. Cereal purchases increased by 26.9 percent in March 2020, according to The Houston Chronicle. While the great cereal boom has cooled, the demand remains high. For Kellogg’s, it’s just a matter of getting through the obstacles and coming out on the other side.

Easter is just over two months away as of Feb. 7, and homemade Rice Krispies treats are a common favorite in the U.S. during the holiday. Consumers—and Kellogg’s—hope that the Rice Krispies shortage will have snapped, crackled, and popped by then.

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