“Health improvements have increasingly become a primary driver of our innovation, both on existing products and as we develop new products,” said 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.”
General Mills’ largest 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 9g of whole grain per serving, and more than 20 General Mills cereals deliver at least 16g. This whole grain innovation was accomplished while delivering the same great taste consumers expect from General Mills.
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% in its top 10 categories by 2015. This sodium reduction effort represents about 40% 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% 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% of the recommended Daily Value of fiber with 5g 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 10g of sugar or less per serving, with some already at 9g, down from 11-15g of sugar in 2007. For example, in fiscal 2012, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp and Cookie Crisp Sprinkles were reformulated from 10g to 9g 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’ Health Metric
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.
Since 2005, when General Mills first implemented its Health Metric, the nutrition profiles of more than 650 different General Mills products in the U.S. have been improved in one or more of the following ways:
Reducing calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar or sodium by 10% or more.
Increasing beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber, by 10% or more.
Formulating products to include at least a half-serving of whole grain, fruit, vegetables or low or nonfat dairy.
Formulating new products or reformulating existing products to meet specific internal requirements, including limiting calories, and meeting “healthy” criteria per labeled serving as defined by the FDA.
“Improving the health profile of products is technically challenging given the multiple roles ingredients play in a recipe, so it takes time, investment and technical achievement to get it right,” said Susan Crockett, Ph.D., R.D., FADA and leader of the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “Today’s announcement again demonstrates that General Mills is committed to improving the health profile of our products without making consumers compromise taste for health.”
New Products in Fiscal 2013
General Mills also cotinues to provide consumers with healthful new product options. New products launched this summer include:
Yoplait Greek 100 – Delivering all of the benefits of Greek yogurt -- thick and creamy texture with two times the protein of regular yogurt -- with 100 calories. The new Yoplait Greek 100 package also carries an endorsement from Weight Watchers with a PointsPlus value of two per serving.
Green Giant Seasoned Steamers -- Green Giant recently introduced six varieties of Seasoned Steamers frozen vegetables made with chef-inspired seasoning blends including rosemary, oregano, honey and parsley. Each Seasoned Steamers variety can be easily prepared in four to eight minutes.
Cascadian Farm Ancient Grains Granola -- This new, organic cereal combines quinoa, spelt, and Kamut khorasan wheat with Cascadian Farm granola -- all lightly sprinkled with cinnamon. Each serving of Ancient Grains Granola is an excellent source of fiber and contains 5g of protein and 35g of whole grain, the most of any Cascadian Farm granola cereal.