NEW YORK — General Mills, Inc. has expanded its ongoing analytic partnership with Nielsen. The agreement gives the Minneapolis-based company more information about consumer trends and the competitive landscape in the U.S. and global markets through Nielsen’s new Connect platform.

Nielsen has provided data to General Mills for more than a decade. The relationship deepened in 2009 to include retail tracking, insights on purchasing behavior, advanced analytical tools and technology services in the U.S.

The expanded partnership comes during a time of increasing competition, fragmentation and digitization within the global consumer packaged goods and retail landscape, Nielsen said. The data firm’s analysis and insights will be used to formulate General Mills’ growth strategy, including new product and categories.

“Through Nielsen Connect, we will be expanding General Mills’ view into the consumer marketplace to provide a deeper understanding of their core consumer needs, propel faster data-driven decisions to foster a more nimble operating environment and generate a prime environment for General Mills to make more meaningful connections between their consumers and brands,” said Laura McCullough, executive vice-president of U.S. manufacturer client success at Nielsen.

Companies increasingly are turning to data analytics to accelerate product development and solve inefficiencies in supply chains. The growing influence of “big data” was a key topic at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo. Services showcased at the event ranged from basic data integration to artificial intelligence (A.I.), which can be used to mine social media for consumer insights and predict preferences for new categories and products.

Conagra Brands is using data analytics to gain insights into millennials consumers’ purchasing behaviors. Sean Connolly, president and chief executive officer at Chicago-based Conagra, said insights garnered from big data have brought about major changes in the company’s innovation strategy, including a renewed focus on convenience, frozen food and home meal preparation.

McCormick and Co., Hunt Valley, Md., also made headlines this year for its use of data analytics. The company teamed up with IBM to develop One, an A.I.-powered platform that predicts new flavor combinations.