Dec 20, 2011 • By

New Year rings in new products

For many, January is a time for New Year’s resolutions. Here at General Mills, it’s also a time for new products. And, one of the perks of my job is that as the calendar year comes to a close, the samples of new products start piling up on my desk.

Twice a year – in June and December – leaders at General Mills announce the company’s lineup of new product innovation for the coming half of the fiscal year.

In June we revealed plans for a big year in innovation with more than 100 new products launching in the first half of the fiscal year, such as Fiber One Brownies, Pillsbury Egg Scrambles and Grands! Biscuit Sandwiches, Totino’s Pizza Stuffers, Wanchai Ferry dim sum varieties, Fiber One 80 Calorie cereal and Betty Crocker Fun da-Middles cupcake mix.

Many of these product launches have thus far exceeded the company’s expectations – with Fiber One Brownies contributing to a double-digit increase for the Fiber One snack franchise, Pillsbury Egg Scrambles and Breakfast Sandwiches projected to have combined year-one retail sales of $40 million in all channels, and year-one retail sales for Totino’s Pizza Stuffers estimated to exceed $20 million in all channels.

This morning during General Mills’ second-quarter earnings conference call, company leaders underscored the importance of product innovation as a key growth driver for our business and previewed what some of the stars might be in the company’s lineup of 50 new products slated to launch throughout the remainder of General Mills’ fiscal year, which ends May 27, 2012.

Two themes stood out for me among the upcoming product introductions – the growing influence of multicultural consumers on American taste preferences and consumers’ desires to either add or avoid certain ingredients in their diets, whether seeking more whole grain or protein or avoiding lactose or gluten.

Here are a handful of the product announcements that caught my attention:

Dulce de Leche Cheerios. This caramel-flavored cereal is the only dulce de leche-inspired cereal in the ready-to-eat cereal category and arrives on store shelves in January. While dulce de leche is a taste profile that is popular among Hispanics, consumer testing has shown that the new flavor will also have strong general market appeal.

Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter. General Mills is adding variety to the fast-growing Multi Grain Cheerios brand in January with the introduction of Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter. Made with real peanut butter, Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter provides 16 grams of whole grain and has 110 calories per serving. According to consumer preference studies, peanut butter is a popular flavor among people looking to manage their weights. 

Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt. Yoplait Lactose Free is the first lactose-free yogurt from a major yogurt brand and will be available across the U.S. in late January. The yogurt comes in four flavors – strawberry, peach, cherry and French vanilla. Studies show that around 15 percent of U.S. consumers are lactose intolerant.

Yoplait Greek with Nature Valley Granola. Yoplait is giving consumers who love Greek yogurt more options this winter with Yoplait Greek with Nature Valley Granola and Greek yogurt in multipacks. Yoplait Greek with Nature Valley Granola is a yogurt parfait of Yoplait Greek yogurt, Nature Valley granola, and fruit on the bottom. The product, which comes in a two-pack, is available in strawberry, blueberry and peach flavors. Greek yogurt is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. yogurt category.

Nature Valley Protein Bars. With consumer interest in protein continuing to rise, Nature Valley is launching Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars – with 10 grams of protein (15 percent of the Daily Value) from all-natural sources, 5 grams of fiber, and less than 200 calories. The bars, which are launching in January, are available in two flavors – Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate & Peanut and Almond & Dark Chocolate.


Nature Valley Fruit Twists. Nature Valley Fruit Twists, sold exclusively in the convenience store channel, are available in cherry and strawberry. The snacks are made with 100 percent natural ingredients and are gluten free.  Selected as one of the top new products at the 2011  National Association of Convenience Stores Show in Chicago, Nature Valley Fruit Twists ranked No. 4 out of more than 240 products in the Cool New Products Review Room.

Other new products launching in the second half of the fiscal year include: Frosted Toast Crunch cereal and new flavors of Fiber One bars and Nature Valley Granola Thins in the U.S. Retail channel; Betty Crocker Oatmeal Bars and Pillsbury Mini Waffles in the K-12 channel; Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards Fudge Crunch bars in the convenience store channel; and Pillsbury Warm Cinnamon Rolls and Pillsbury Warm Apple Cinnamon Pastries in the foodservice channel.

Editor’s note: Some of our new product ideas come through partnering with innovators outside our company. To learn more about that, visit our G-Win page on