Oct 11, 2011 • By

Strong year of health improvements

Recently, executives from General Mills spoke with The Wall Street Journal about the company’s commitment to delivering healthy options in the products we create. We talked with food industry reporter Julie Jargon about the improvements we’ve made to our product portfolio by adding whole grains, fiber and calcium, and reducing calories, sugar, sodium and trans fats.

The resulting article, appearing in today’s edition, focuses on the many unique and important roles each ingredient plays in a recipe and the subsequent technical challenges food companies face as they seek to reformulate existing products and create new products.

As noted in the article, General Mills improved the health profile of products comprising approximately 25 percent of our U.S. Retail sales volume in fiscal 2011.

General Mills first began tracking and quantifying health improvements in 2005. Since that time, we have improved the health profile of 64 percent of our U.S. Retail sales volume.

The Wall Street Journal article specifically highlights the significant technical achievements of our Big G R&D team and our ongoing commitment to reducing sugar and adding whole grain to our cereals. We have made important advancements in improving the health profile of our Big G cereals while maintaining great taste and not compromising the eating experience.

We’ve reduced sugar in all Big G kid cereals to 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, down from 11 to 15 grams of sugar in 2007, and we’re committed to further reducing sugar levels in Big G cereals to single digits. Big G is now America’s No. 1 source of whole grain at breakfast, delivering 37.5 million whole grain servings per day to consumers.

These technical advancements are challenging on many levels, given the multiple roles ingredients play in a recipe. For example, sugar not only provides sweetness, but also helps to keep cereal crisp in milk.

Our goal with all health improvements is to maintain the great taste, value and convenience consumers have come to know and trust from General Mills. After all, it’s not nutrition unless people eat it.

In addition to the Big G advancements articulated in The Wall Street Journal article, General Mills has made strong progress across our portfolio formulating new products to include at least a half serving of whole grain, fruit, vegetables or low or nonfat dairy; reducing calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and sodium; and increasing beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins and minerals.

However, we continue to focus on making even further health improvements.

As mentioned, General Mills is committed to reducing sugar levels in Big G cereals to single digit grams per serving. Also, in April 2010, we announced we would trim sodium, on average, by 20 percent in 600 SKUs by 2015. This sodium reduction effort represents about 40 percent of the company’s U.S. Retail portfolio — everything from snacks to soups to side dishes.

We are committed to delivering on consumers’ desire for more healthful products by improving the nutrition profile of our existing products and introducing innovative, new products that are both nutritious and taste great.

Editor’s note: The Wall Street Journal’s Julie Jargon talks about her story in this video.