General Mills Improves its Health Profile

General Mills has improved the health profile of 68 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume since 2005. In fiscal 2012 alone, the company improved nearly 16 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume. Improvements include adding whole grains, fiber and calcium, and reducing calories, sugar, sodium and trans fat. General Mills first began tracking and quantifying health improvements in 2005.
“Health improvements have increasingly become a primary driver of our innovation, both on existing products and as we develop new products,” says Marc Belton, General Mills executive vice president of Global Strategy, Growth and Marketing Innovation. “We know that people expect great taste from our products, so we are careful to balance strong health benefits and health improvements with great taste. But it would be accurate to say that General Mills is squarely focused on health, because we know that consumers have come to know and expect that from General Mills.”
The largest General Mills health advancements in fiscal 2012 include increasing whole grain and reducing sodium.
In 2012, General Mills reached a multi-year reformulation milestone across its portfolio of Big G cereals to ensure that every Big G cereal now has more whole grain than any other single ingredient. Every Big G cereal now contains at least 9 grams of whole grain per serving, and more than 20 General Mills cereals deliver at least 16 grams.
General Mills also accomplished multiple sodium reductions across its portfolio of products in fiscal 2012. General Mills previously announced that it would trim sodium, on average, by 20 percent in its top 10 categories by 2015. This sodium reduction effort represents about 40 percent of the company’s U.S. Retail portfolio — everything from snacks to soups to side dishes. General Mills has made strong progress toward this goal.
Sodium reductions in fiscal 2012 were made across General Mills’ portfolio. Examples include a 10 percent or more sodium reduction on several Chex Mix varieties, several Big G cereals, and a number of Hamburger Helper dinners, as well as other products in the meals category.
Other fiscal 2012 improvements include:
--Increased fiber: The Fiber One family of products was expanded in fiscal 2012 to include Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies. The brownies provide 20 percent of the recommended Daily Value of fiber with 5 grams of fiber per serving.
--Reduced sugar: General Mills continues to reduce sugar in its products. The company announced it would reduce sugar in all of its cereals advertised to children under 12 to single-digit grams of sugar per serving in 2009. Today, all General Mills kid cereals are at 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, with some already at 9 grams, down from 11 to 15 grams of sugar in 2007. For example, in fiscal 2012, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp and Cookie Crisp Sprinkles were reformulated from 10 grams to 9 grams of sugar per serving.
--Reduced fat: In recent years, General Mills has also successfully reformulated a number of products to reduce or remove trans fat. For example, the company removed trans fat from several popular Pillsbury products, including Ready-to-Bake Cookies, Toaster Strudel and Toaster Scrambles. In fiscal 2012, General Mills continued to remove trans fat by reformulating additional Pillsbury biscuits and crescents.
General Mills tracks and quantifies health profile improvements using its “Health Metric” — a corporate initiative overseen by General Mills’ Health and Wellness Council and the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition to encourage and measure the company’s progress on nutrition and health improvements.