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Jul 13, 2011 • By

Innovation and brand building drive U.S. Retail plans

Ian Friendly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of General Mills’ U.S. Retail business, shared the company’s plans for its U.S. Retail business this morning at our annual Investor Day meeting. He emphasized the importance of staying focused on product innovation and effective marketing support.

During his presentation in Boston, he shared plans for five of U.S. Retail’s largest businesses, including cereal, yogurt, refrigerated baked goods, grain snacks, and frozen pizza and hot snacks. He also provided key updates on other company businesses, such as Progresso and our natural and organic brands. Highlights from the U.S. Retail category plans include:

Cereal

Cheerios remains the No. 1 selling cereal franchise in the U.S., and the company plans to grow the franchise in 2012 with increased advertising for Original and Honey Nut Cheerios, continued weight management messaging on MultiGrain Cheerios, and increased consumer support behind our other highly incremental Cheerios flavors, including Cinnamon Burst Cheerios. New cereals hitting the shelves this summer include Fiber One 80-Calorie cereal and Cascadian Farm French Vanilla Almond Granola.

Yogurt

“For Yoplait in total, fiscal 2012 will be an investment year,” said Ian. “Our plans call for strong levels of consumer support across our entire yogurt portfolio.” Late this summer, General Mills will add manufacturing capacity for its improved fruit-on-the bottom Yoplait Greek yogurt and plans to turn on advertising support for the product once the capacity has been added. The brand also plans to launch Yoplait Light with Granola (cups of yogurt, fruit and granola) this summer.

Refrigerated Baked Goods

Otherwise known as RBG, this category is made up of Pillsbury refrigerated dough products such as crescent rolls, biscuits and sweet rolls. “We’ll work to keep the momentum going with a new consumer campaign, “Ideas Made Easy,” which we’ll roll out this fall,” Ian said. Pillsbury also plans to increase its digital marketing efforts and to launch new flavors of Sweet Moments ready-to-eat desserts and Pillsbury sweet rolls.

Grain Snacks

Retail sales for Nature Valley snack bars grew 12 percent in fiscal 2011, and this year Friendly explained that the brand will look to build support through increased TV advertising. The big news for this category in fiscal 2012 is the launch of great-tasting Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies, which bring variety and a new product platform to the successful Fiber One brand.

Totino’s Frozen Pizza and Frozen Hot Snacks

General Mills’ fifth-largest U.S. Retail business, Totino’s, will launch Totino’s Pizza Stuffers this month. These convenient hand-held pizza pouches appeal to on-the-go families and are ready in minutes in the microwave.

Ready-to-Serve Soup

According to Ian, in fiscal 2011 Progresso increased its household penetration by 2.6 points and gained distribution. The brand will look to keep the momentum going this year through a continued focus on taste, increased consumer spending on the brand, and product news, including new flavors in the Progresso Rich & Hearty line.

Organic and Natural

Ian credited the company’s organic and natural food brands with strong performance in fiscal 2011, which he said “represent one of our fastest-growing businesses.” For example, Cascadian Farm cereals gained more than a point of share growth in fiscal 2011 in a segment that is growing at a 4 percent pace.

He made a nod to the strong product innovation planned for fiscal 2012, with nearly 70 new U.S. Retail products launching in the first half of the fiscal year alone, including Pillsbury Scrambles and Grands! Biscuit Sandwiches, Betty Crocker Fun da-middles and Old El Paso Tortilla Stuffers.

Ian explained that General Mills will support both new and established products with increasing levels of brand building support this year and will focus on digital media and multicultural marketing efforts such as the Que Rica Vida lifestyle and recipe website.

Editor’s note: To listen to Ian Friendly’s entire presentation, check out the full Investor Day webcast on GeneralMills.com. You also can see the live tweets from all of the Investor Day presentations, with the hashtag #InvestorGIS.

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