Slideshow: Snacking trends inspire innovation at General Mills

by Rebekah Schouten
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MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills’ spate of new products were crafted with consumers’ snacking habits in mind.

Ken Powell, General Mills
Ken Powell, chairman and c.e.o. of General Mills

“Snacking presents a tremendous growth opportunity for General Mills,” said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer of General Mills. “Our products are in 97% of U.S. consumer households … This gives us a great ability to listen and deliver what consumers want. And while preferences are changing faster than ever, what hasn’t changed is the desire for food that tastes great, is convenient, and affordable. Our scale allows us to easily transfer great ideas into great products around the world.”

Consumers are seeking snacks made with simple ingredients and free from all things artificial, General Mills said. A majority of the company’s new products — from new Nature Valley Granola Cups to Yoplait Dippers to Fiber One Layered Chewy Bars — contain no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives.

Consumers also are craving snacks that will aid in weight management, General Mills said, though their idea and process of doing so has changed.

Jeanine Bassett, General Mills
Jeanine Bassett, vice-president of global consumer insights at General Mills

“Weight management used to be about counting calories,” said Jeanine Bassett, vice-president of global consumer insights at General Mills. “Now it’s about calories that count. So it’s less about getting weight management through artificial sweeteners than it is, for instance, through protein. Protein is just a different, better way of getting there. There’s more satiety with protein. So that’s why you’re going to see a product change with our Yoplait Greek 100 where it has increased protein, so people can lose weight the way they want to today.”

Organic offerings and transparency have grown increasingly important in snack selection as well. Annie’s is introducing organic ready-to-eat popcorn in Organic Butter & Sea Salt and Organic White Cheddar varieties. General Mills’ Liberte brand is adding two new USDA-certified organic yogurt flavors with traceably sourced ingredients: Indonesian Vanilla Bean and limited batch Nicaraguan Coffee Bean made with organic Direct Trade Intelligentsia Coffee.

New products from General Mills
General Mills’ spate of new products were crafted with consumers’ snacking habits in mind.

“Liberte is taking it a step further not just making it organic but making sure there’s transparency around where the ingredients come from — so not just vanilla bean but vanilla bean for Indonesia,” Ms. Bassett said. “Consumer food values are always on the move, and that’s a tricky one for us. They are more and more living out their life values through food, which they didn’t used to do. A tomato can’t be a tomato anymore. For some consumers they have to grow their own tomato, for others it has to be local, for another it has to be organic, for another, they just don’t care; they’ll buy it on sale at the local grocery store. The functionality of the tomato is the same — it all ends up in the salsa. But for them the story of how it got to the table is really important to them, so it’s become a much bigger platform for saying who you are. It used to be the clothes you wore or the car you drove or the watch you had. Now you can say who you are through a tomato.”

Click for a slideshow of new products from General Mills
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