Colors-flavors
Jun 22, 2015 • By

A big commitment for Big G cereal

Our cereal team is always listening to consumers about how we can improve our cereals and make them better.

In recent years, we’ve heard that artificial ingredients aren’t what you are looking for in your bowl.

So today, we’ve announced that we are committing to remove artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources from the rest of General Mills cereals.

The work has been underway for several months – and we’ve actually been researching flavors and colors for several years – so we’re excited to break the news now.

The change affects roughly 40 percent of our cereals over the next two to three years. Currently, about 60 percent of our cereals already are free of artificial flavors or colors from artificial sources and have been that way for several years.

We are aiming for 75 percent by January – including Reese’s Puffs and Trix – and 90 percent by the end of 2016, giving our product developers time to make sure they look and taste great.

Reeses-Puffs

Each cereal requires different changes. Cereals that contain marshmallows, like Lucky Charms and our Monster cereals, are the biggest challenge and may take longer to complete the changes.

“We’re simply listening to consumers and these ingredients are not what people are looking for in their cereal today,” says Jim Murphy, president of our Cereal division.

Jim says the goal is to match the taste that consumers love, with little to no visible change to the color for most of the cereals we’re reformulating. Some, like Trix, will look a bit different as we remove colors from artificial sources.

Colors-flavors

(Watch the story reported by ABC’s Good Morning America)

An artificial source is where the ingredient is derived from something other than a plant, spice or another substance found in nature. For cereals like Trix, we will be using fruit and vegetable juice and spice extracts for color. In Reese’s Puffs, we will use flavors like natural vanilla.

“With our consumers, it reached a tipping point in the last couple of years with the trend toward simpler food,” says Jim. “I remember the meeting where we all looked at each other and said ‘We’re just done with these, we’re going to do the whole line.’”

Cereal-Announcement

“This is about removing barriers to cereal,” says Lauren Pradhan, senior marketing manager for wellness strategy in the Cereal division. “People have told us they don’t want dyes in their cereal.”

The project picked up momentum over the last year as we worked closely with suppliers to find the right ingredients.

“It was just all hands on deck, and the team has done an incredible job of saying ‘We’re going to make this happen,’” Lauren says.

“It takes a lot of time,” says Kate Gallager, research and development manager for Cereal. “Part of it is that the sources weren’t readily available on the scale we needed them to be, or at the consistency we needed them to be.”

Kate’s team has been testing numerous versions of our cereals. We’ve also had consumers try the cereals, adults and children, to let us know their thoughts.
“We’ve been working relentlessly to make sure these cereals still taste like what people are used to eating,” she says.

Eating and testing bowl by bowl, after only slight tweaks to the recipes, the team is finding the ideal color and taste for each brand.

“If you are just looking at the flavor, and not changing the color at the same time, it’s a bit more straightforward,” says Kate.

But any changes in the color have interactions with the flavor.

“In the case of Trix, we looked at a wide range of fruits, vegetables and spices in different combinations trying to get the desired color,” Kate says. “But we also worked to make a cereal that would not impart extra flavors that we weren’t looking for. Where we’ve landed, is using a pretty broad array of fruit and vegetable concentrates to make up those red and purple colors.”

“It’s about making cereal that tastes great and still delivers on what it was before we made the changes, or make it even better,” says Kate.

General-Mills-Cereal-Infographic

Jim says employees across General Mills are excited about these changes. And he’s proud of all the employees who are touching the project.

“We have great people working on it,” Jim says. “You can tell when you have a good idea, when people are working real hard and they’re passionate about it. I couldn’t be more proud to be the leader of the people leading this and watching everyone just make it work.”

“It makes me feel good that we are listening and responding in a culture of making food with passion,” Lauren says. “We are passionately doing this and we are figuring this out to make this happen and challenging the way we always did things, and keeping the consumer first in everything that we do.”

When the changes to each cereal brand are made, you will see them reflected on the ingredient list and, in some cases, called out on the front of the box.

“I just couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Lauren says. “We’re not only marketers, food scientists and operations folks, but we’re also moms and dads, and aunts and uncles. And our family members are asking us about these types of things with cereal, so the fact that we can now go to them and say ‘We’ve heard you, we’re doing this for you’ gives us all a lot of pride.”

“This is about giving people food that they love,” says Jim. “We are continually innovating and renovating our products to ensure we’re meeting consumer expectations,” says Jim.

Learn more at GeneralMills.com/Cereal.

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