GM Reducing Cereal Sugar

December 9/Minneapolis/Business Wire -- General Mills announced a public commitment to reduce sugar in cereals advertised to children to single-digit grams of sugar per serving. The initiative is in place and progress has been made, the company said, "with further reductions to continue until single-digit levels are reached on all cereals advertised to children."

"Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of the sugar in children's diets," said Jeff Harmening, president of General Mills' Big G cereal division. "Still, we know that some consumers would prefer to see cereals that are even lower in sugar, especially children's cereals. General Mills has responded, and we are committing to reduce sugar levels even more."

General Mills has been reducing sugar in cereals advertised to children, while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain. "We have already made meaningful changes across our cereal portfolio," noted Harmening, "and we have reached and exceeded our original goals. So today we are strengthening our goal -- by publicly committing to further reduce to single-digit levels of sugar per serving every cereal advertised to children under 12."

The company's commitment is among the most aggressive goals advanced in the food industry. The initiative will extend globally to 130 countries, with Cereal Partners Worldwide -- the global cereal joint venture in which General Mills is a partner -- adopting similar commitments.

"Ready-to-eat cereal really is one of the best breakfast choices you could make," said Susan Crockett, Ph. D, vice president, Health and Nutrition, and director of the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition at General Mills. "More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights -- and lower Body Mass Index measures (BMIs). It's true of men. It's true of women. It's true of kids. And that includes people who eat presweetened cereals."

"Our first target was to reduce sugar in cereals advertised to children to 12g of sugar or less," explained Harmening. "Many were already lower, but some were not. So we put in place a plan to reduce sugar levels in a series of steps in those cereals and others, while continuing to deliver great taste. As a result, we have already reduced sugar in many cereals, some by as much as 20%, and by spring General Mills cereals advertised to children will all have 11g of sugar per serving or less.

"Today, we are strengthening our goal," Harmening added. "We are committing to reduce sugar in cereals advertised to children under 12 to single-digit grams of sugar per serving."

To ensure the cereals continue to taste great, reductions will continue in a series of smaller steps. "Maintaining great taste while continuing to reduce sugar is a challenge," noted Harmening. "It requires technology, time and investment. But we're doing it. We are committed to reaching single-digit levels."

"General Mills strives to be the health leader in every category in which we compete," said Harmening, "Big G is going to continue to lead in cereal as well."

From the December 21, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition