Feb 21, 2017 • By

Meeting the needs of today’s consumers

General Mills executives detailed progress of the company’s “Consumer First” strategy and plans to renew topline growth today at the annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference.

We’ve been updating our recipes from Cheerios to Yoplait to Progresso and have expanded our gluten free and organic offerings, and made nutritional improvements on hundreds of products. All of this gives people more choices than ever that align with growing demand for great tasting foods that address wellness, transparency and convenience.

Ken Powell, General Mills chairman and CEO, said today that our purpose of serving the world by making food people love guides our Consumer First strategy.


“This has been the cornerstone of our existence for the past 150 years and continues to guide us as we look to the future,” said Ken.

With food preferences changing faster than ever, we remain focused on understanding and responding in ways that will grow our business.

Listen to Ken talk about the broad food trends we see shaping the global marketplace in this audio clip.

Meeting Modern Wellness Needs

Over the last few years, General Mills has made big changes to our food. We continue to serve our offerings that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and that make you feel good about feeding your family.

In 2015, we began work to remove artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources in our cereals. Today 90 percent of our cereals make this claim.


But it’s not only cereal. Across North America, about half of General Mills offerings contain no artificial flavors, no colors from artificial sources or no artificial preservatives including Yoplait yogurts and our Annie’s organic line.

General Mills has long been a leader in providing consumers more gluten-free choices. One of our biggest wellness initiatives has been the conversion of seven varieties of Cheerios to gluten free.


Since we first started making Rice Chex gluten free in 2008, we have grown our portfolio to include more than 1,000 gluten-free items. And we’ve introduced gluten-free products in more places including away-from-home food outlets, and in new regions such as Canada and Europe.

We have also been working to update product recipes with improved nutrition, including more whole grain, protein and fiber, and lower sugar and sodium and no trans fats.


According to Jeff Harmening, president and chief operating officer, interest in whole grain is not just in the U.S. It has fueled success for Cereal Partners Worldwide, our cereal joint venture. Their “Whole Grain Number 1” campaign is not only raising awareness for the wholesome ingredients in our cereals, but also delivering results outside the U.S.


And to address interest in protein, we have added more protein to Yoplait Greek 100, and changed the packaging on Yoplait Original yogurt to better communicate its 6 grams of protein per serving.

Offering Greater Transparency

Ken also said that people today want to know what is in their food and increasingly demand simple, recognizable ingredients. Shoppers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is made.

Last fall, we converted our Progresso soups to offer antibiotic-free and hormone-free chicken breasts – a first for a large retail soup brand in the U.S.

And General Mills has made significant investments in organic foods with brands like Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Liberté and LÄRABAR. Since 2000 when we first acquired the Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen brands, we have built a business with retail sales over $1 billion dollars in North American measured channels.


In fact, one in 10 products across our North American portfolio is USDA-certified organic or made with organic ingredients. And 600 products are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project verification program.

We’re also making investments in emerging food brands through 301 INC, our new business development and venturing unit. 301 INC finances and guides promising food startup companies that address emerging priorities and values people have about food. To date, 301 INC has backed brands including Kite Hill, Beyond Meat, Good Culture, Tio Gazpacho and Rhythm Superfoods.

Taste and Convenience Still Matter

While most people want to eat healthier, something that has never gone away is interest in great tasting, convenient food at a good value.

With more people living in urban centers, and as the middle class grows in cities around the world, they’re looking for convenience in the form of easy-to-prepare meals, more snack options and food that can be eaten on the go.

Ken said today our efforts to drive topline growth are focused on five global platforms that align well with these consumer trends – cereal; snacks like Nature Valley and Fiber One; convenient meals like Old El Paso; yogurt such as Yoplait and Liberté; and our super-premium ice cream business, Häagen-Dazs.


Roughly 75 percent of our consolidated worldwide sales come from these five platforms. According to Euromonitor, these categories are large – ranging from $23 billion dollars to nearly $300 billion dollars. But more importantly, they are projected to grow at healthy compound rates over the next five years because they align well with demand for convenience, wellness, taste and value.

A replay of today’s presentation at CAGNY is available on the Investors page of through Friday, March 17, 2017.

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