Innovating in China for growth
Today, General Mills leaders celebrated the grand opening of the company’s new innovation, technology and quality center in China, just outside Shanghai.
To mark the opening, General Mills leaders and Chinese officials broke a golden egg, a symbol of the company’s role as an incubator in the region.
“Our new technical center in Shanghai provides General Mills a tremendous opportunity to accelerate innovation in the Greater China region and better support this rapidly expanding business,” said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO, at today’s ceremony.
“By bringing our world-class capabilities to the region, we will increase our agility to act on emerging consumer trends, enable bigger and better innovation pipelines, and establish a food safety center of excellence for our business.”
This state-of-the-art facility will focus on developing high-quality products for Chinese consumers including snacks, convenient meals, yogurt and super premium ice cream.
Inside it will house centers for product research and development, food safety, food nutrition research, and food sensory evaluation.
Hear from Peter Erickson, executive vice president and president of Innovation, Technology and Quality at General Mills, talk about the new innovation center in this video clip.
China is one of the company’s largest growth markets and we make many products to appeal to our consumers in the region. For example, our Wanchai Ferry brand is the category leader in the dumpling segment. This year we are introducing new seasonal varieties that feature high quality ingredients like shrimp and asparagus and corn and pine nuts.
Last year, we introduced a breakthrough crystal tangyuan product. Traditional tangyuan is a filled dough product, the crystal tangyuan uses a translucent dough that lets you see the filling inside. And it’s been a success. During the most recent Chinese New Year, a peak season for the segment, our tangyuan business grew over 30 percent. This year we are introducing new green tea and pumpkin flavors.
Constant-currency net sales for China have grown at a 15 percent compound rate over the past four years, reaching over $700 million dollars in 2014. And General Mills expects double-digit net sales growth from Greater China this fiscal year.
Last week at the company’s Investor Day event in New York, Chris O’Leary, executive vice president and chief operating officer for General Mills International, spoke about the company’s growth plans, which include expanding the geographic presence for Haagen-Dazs in China where we will 80 new shops and enter 16 new cities.
Chris also noted that the company is preparing to enter the $8 billion yogurt category and has begun construction on a new manufacturing facility in the region.