With General Mills’ recent technology innovations, it’s no surprise it's doubling down on its commitment to digital transformation with its latest hire. The company has named Lanette Shaffer Werner as its new chief innovation, technology, and quality (ITQ) officer.
Shaffer Werner is taking over for Jodi Benson starting June 1 ahead of Benson’s retirement in July. According to the company, the role oversees the invention and commercialization of new food products and tech that meet consumers’ evolving food values.
Werner brings an extensive research and development background, previously working as the company’s VP of ITQ within the meals and baking solutions department. She is a General Mills veteran, having joined the company in 1995 as a research and development intern supporting Häagen-Dazs, moving up the ranks to also touch on ingredient technology, strategy, and innovation.
“Lanette has a proven track record of valued contributions, technical experience, and engaging leadership, and I’m confident she will advance our pursuit of innovation across General Mills." —Jeff Harmening, Chairman and CEO, General Mills
The consumer goods company — which includes well-known brands such as Cheerios, Nature Valley, Blue Buffalo, Häagen-Dazs, Old El Paso, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Annie’s, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, and more — is no stranger to innovation and tech advancement. In fact, the company even has its pulse on emerging areas of interest like generative AI.
Just last month, the company said it would be testing AI to combat misinformation within its marketing campaigns, implementing fact checking to live campaigns for its Yoplait brand in the first quarter of this year. This closely followed General Mills’ Cereal Partners Worldwide joint venture with Nestle, which is integrating an AI assistant that uses OpenAI’s GPT-4 language model for business intelligence discovery.
General Mills has also recently experimented with IoT devices to better understand consumer behavior patterns by leveraging cameras that integrate with Amazon, Apple, IFTTT (If This Then That) third-party devices to track the contents of a refrigerator. Through this, consumers can create mobile grocery lists, receive notifications when they’re running low on items, and automatically reorder items via Amazon Fresh.
And to better inform consumer-centric innovation, the company has grown extensively in the area of first-party data, having enticed 2 million customers to its Good Rewards loyalty program within the first six months.
At the end of last year, General Mills leaders said the company increased investments in digital and technology by more than $100 million over the past few years and expects to grow these investments by double digits in 2023.