General Mills says ‘no’ to formulating more G.M.O.-free products

by Keith Nunes
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BOCA RATON, FLA. — Ken Powell, the chairman and chief executive officer of General Mills, Inc. has a simple answer for anyone wondering if the company plans to reformulate more products to be G.M.O.-free.

“No.”

While the announcement that the company has removed bioengineered ingredients from its iconic original Cheerios brand has generated a lot of discussion within the food and beverage industry, it has failed to move the needle from a sales perspective, Mr. Powell said. He was speaking after the company’s presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference taking place this week in Boca Raton.

“I think it has been fine,” Mr. Powell said, referring to the performance of Cheerios following the announcement in early January. “We have a good health portfolio and grow our share consistently.”

He noted that non-G.M.O. is “something out there,” but has not “affected competitive performance.”

At the beginning of the year, General Mills announced it had removed non-bioengineered ingredients from Original Cheerios by making changes to how it sources and handles ingredients that are used to manufacture the product. Specifically, the company is separating cane sugar from beet sugar and using corn starch made with non-bioengineered corn.

Shortly after General Mills made its announcement, Post Foods L.L.C., St. Louis, announced its Grape-Nuts brand was certified G.M.O.-free.
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READER COMMENTS (9)

By Frank M 10/8/2014 8:36:18 AM
Very disappointed my favorite brand of cereal Cheerios plain and honey nut put profits above consumer health. I try to buy everything organic milk egg ect. I just stopped using Colgate toothpaste and aluminum containing deodorants for the same reason. I believed cherrios was one the healthiest cereals out there for myself and kids not good General Mills!

By Frank Manolios 10/8/2014 8:31:50 AM
Very disappointed my favorite brand of cereal Cheerios plain and honey nut put profits above consumer health. I try to buy everything organic milk egg ect. I just stopped using Colgate toothpaste and aluminum containing deodorants for the same reason. I believed cherrios was one the healthiest cereals out there for myself and kids not good Geral Mills,

By H. Lester 2/26/2014 11:18:55 AM
What an insult to the non-GMO community and movement. In case you don't know, General Mills also owns such organic brands as Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen under their acquisition of Small Planet Foods. I assume that's the 'good health portfolio' he references. So while you may be spending money to eat organic with these brands in high-end retailers, do so knowing that their well-compensated CEO doesn't give any kind of serious consideration to cleaning up their ingredient supply chain as a company initiative. Imagine what these companies could do to the corn supply in this country if they made a move to go all non-GM with their portfolios. Give your dollars to someone doing it right, like Nature's Path or a similar mission-driven cereal company...

By Cin An 2/23/2014 9:00:03 PM
Cheerios was also exposed for actually lowering the nutritional values when they moved to "GMO-free" ingredients, which hurt their credibility and claims of wholesomeness. Starbucks had similar experience with "rbst-free" milk, where consumers didn't want to pay even a portion of the cost of making that shift, so that policy quietly went away. Watch "GMO-free" Cheerios to disappear from shelves within six months.

By Greg Sparks 2/23/2014 2:29:59 PM
I suspected their move was simply an attempt to whitewash to subject. Looks like I was right.

By MeetMyFarmer 2/23/2014 12:50:33 PM
With 4 teens in the house we used to go through a box of cereal a day. I have not bought any (except for organic corn puffs) for 3 years now. I know I'm not the only one. That's gotta hurt.

By Jeanette 2/21/2014 3:07:25 PM
The non-GMO crowd is boycotting GM, and they didn't take the bait. Took, what, 1.5 months for the chameleon to show its true colors?

By Ryan Howard 2/21/2014 10:04:06 AM
I think you meant to write "General Mills announced it had removed bioengineered ingredients from Original Cheerios", not "General Mills announced it had removed non-bioengineered ingredients from Original Cheerios". The statement leads people to think they only use bioengineered ingredients now in Cheerios.

By Danielle Roberson 2/21/2014 10:00:51 AM
It seems the decision to make Cheerios non-GM was based on sales, not science. When it comes to GMOs, emotions usually fuel the discussion, overshadowing the science. Not that the science is black-and-white, but the evolution of GM conversations is interesting to me as a consumer and as a Food Scientist.