Mar 19, 2014 • By

Baking division helps make sweet memories

As a child, I dreamed about being a great chef. I fondly remember my mother taking out the Big Red Betty Crocker cookbook each holiday.

I’d thumb through the pages, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all of the tasty cookies and desserts. I’d offer suggestions to my mother as to what to bake. (Let’s just say, I had big aspirations given my limited abilities as a baker-in-training.)

Today, I enjoy this same experience with my daughters. Instead of pulling out the classic cookbook from my childhood, we pull out my tablet, where I’ve downloaded the Betty Crocker app. Together we search around for holiday recipe ideas. The girls ohh and ahh, lobbying for their favorite recipes, just as I did. This year’s winner was Peanut Butter Blossoms, which you can find here. It’s fun to continue this tradition with them, one I hope they someday pass on.

Helping create sweet family moments like this is central to the brands within General Mills’ Baking Products division, which include American icons like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Bisquick and Gold Medal flour.

The Baking Products division is part of General Mills’ U.S. Retail segment and generates $2.5 billion dollars in annual retail sales, making it the largest branded baking business in the U.S.

Ann Simonds leads this business as senior vice president and president. On this morning’s earnings webcast, Ann gave analysts an overview of the division’s performance in the third quarter, where retail sales grew 4 percent overall.

In the following video interview, I asked Ann to give me a bit of background on her role, talk about some of the new products we have launched this year and how brands like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury are connecting with consumers today through digital channels.

Product innovation

This fiscal year the Baking Products division has introduced a strong line-up of new products including a Betty Crocker and Hershey co-branded line of dessert mixes and frosting.


You can read about the new dessert mix line in this blog post.

And the Pillsbury brand has introduced gluten-free refrigerated cookie dough, pizza dough and pie crust.


Reaching Consumers through Digital Channels

While some of the company’s baking brands are more than 100 years old (Gold Medal is General Mills’ oldest brand, established in 1880), they are still relevant with consumers today. And these brands are reaching a new level of consumer engagement through digital media.

On this morning’s investor call, Ann said digital media now represents more than one-third of the division’s total media spending.

“The goal of our digital initiatives is to be on the right mobile device, at the right time, with the right message, and we have some well-known equities to leverage,” she said.

For example, is one of the top 10 most frequently visited food websites in the U.S. Consumers today can connect with Betty Crocker through this website, in addition to brand’s Pinterest and Facebook pages. Furthermore, consumers can download the Betty Crocker Cookbook app for their mobile device.

Consumers can also sign up to be a member of to receive recipes, entertaining ideas and even coupons that are based on what you look at online and what you buy.


In addition,, with 40 million visitors per year, has created an instructional video series – 10 Seconds to Dinner – which show consumers new uses for its refrigerated dough products. These videos feature quick recipes using five ingredients or less to help consumers get dinner on the table in a flash. The ideas range from single-serve pizzas to pockets for sloppy joes.

Ann’s entire presentation from the third-quarter earnings webcast is available in the Investor section on

Editor’s note: We blogged about today’s third-quarter results, earlier. This post contains forward looking statements regarding future results. Please see our press release dated March 19, 2014 for risk factors that could affect the results anticipated in these forward looking statements.