Kellogg Leaves Venezuela as Breakfast Falls Victim to Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Corn Flakes may be even scarcer in Caracas.

Kellogg Co. said Tuesday it will discontinue operations in Venezuela immediately, blaming the country’s “economic and social deterioration,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The food giant is just the latest international company to partially or completely close shop in the troubled and chaotic nation, following others such as Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. Poor access to raw materials and scarce dollars to import goods due to currency controls impaired Kellogg’s ability to operate its Venezuelan subsidiary, the company said in February.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said good riddance.

“The company has been handed to the workers,” he said at a rally in the central state of Carabobo. "It will continue to operate in the hands of the working class."

Kellogg’s products, from Zucaritas -- sweet corn flakes -- and Nutri-Grain bars, were commonly found on Venezuelans’ breakfast tables and pantries. But grinding food shortages and rampant inflation have put even cereal beyond the purchasing power of most families in the hungry country.

The Battle Creek, Michigan-based company had already changed the way it counted results from that operation at the end of 2016. All its contractual obligations have been settled with employees, suppliers and customers, the company said, while the license agreement for the use of its brands and characters in Venezuela has been terminated.

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