Jul 13, 2011 • By

Giving analysts the global perspective

Our global operations generated interest from analysts today at our annual Investor Day meeting, held in Boston.

Chris O’Leary, executive vice president and chief operating officer of General Mills’ International operations, gave an overview of our global brands – including how Yoplait fits into the worldwide picture. He also discussed our international plans for the new fiscal year.

“Our plans are focused on building our five global platforms of ready-to-eat cereal, super-premium ice cream, convenient meals, healthy snacks, and now yogurt,” said Chris. “These businesses have terrific sales and earnings prospects.”

In the cereal category, Chris pointed to a strong product line in Canada, including the launch of Chocolate Cheerios and a shredded wheat variety of Fibre One.

He also said he expects Cereal Partners Worldwide, our cereal joint venture with Nestlѐ that now competes in roughly 130 markets, to have success with core brands like Cheerios and Fitness and new products like Nesquik Pillows and SuperFruity Shredded Wheat.

As for ice cream, consumers in more than 80 countries can now enjoy Häagen-Dazs, either from one of our roughly 700 upscale shops, or from grocery and other retail outlets. We’ll add 100 shops in fiscal 2012. New products include Secret Sensations and, in Japan, Crêpe Glacé.

Chris said our two biggest convenient meal businesses in international markets are Old El Paso Mexican food, and Wanchai Ferry frozen dim sum. Old El Paso is in more than 60 countries. Our Wanchai Ferry frozen dumplings, noodles and dim sum are now available in more than 100 cities in China. And, we’ll be expanding to new cities in China, adding new items to the product line, and also launching Wanchai Ferry in new markets in Southeast Asia.

Chris also talked about our grain snacks, like Nature Valley and Fiber One bars, and the expansion of some items to Latin American markets (Chocolate Nature Valley bars) and Australia (Nature Valley chewy bars).

The fifth platform Chris discussed in his presentation today was yogurt. With our acquisition of a stake in Yoplait international, this category brings great potential.

“We’re excited to continue our long-term partnership with Sodiaal, and work to accelerate growth of the Yoplait brand in both existing and new markets around the world,” Chris said.

Yoplait has wholly owned operations in several countries, with the largest businesses in France, the UK and Canada.

The Yoplait’s French management team has been in place since 2002, and has successfully focused the product portfolio on five flagship brands: Panier de Yoplait, Yop, Calin, Petits Filous and Perle de Lait.

Also, through its network of franchisees, Yoplait products are currently available in 70 countries. General Mills is the biggest licensee, in the United States. “The other franchise markets of size are Canada, Australia and Mexico,” said Chris. “Through these licensees, Yoplait’s reach is quite broad. But there’s plenty of white space out there, too.”

Chris closed his remarks, summing up the global reach of products and brands under the General Mills umbrella.

“When you add it all up, our international operations are poised to drive strong growth for General Mills in the years ahead,” Chris said.

Editor’s note: To listen to Chris O’Leary’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.