MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. feels “really good” about how it competed in the ready-to-eat cereal category during the first quarter of fiscal 2021, said Jonathon J. Nudi, president of North America Retail at the Minneapolis-based company.
In a Sept. 23 conference call to discuss first-quarter financials, Mr. Nudi said that while RTE cereal category sales were up 4% during the first quarter, General Mills’ sales were up 6%. General Mills also experienced approximately 50 basis points of share growth in the period, and turned in its 21st straight month of share growth in the category.
“We now have four of the top five brands in the category,” he said. “We had share increases on six of our top seven brands. We’re the top three new items in the category with Cheerios Oat Crunch and the Cheerios and Trix Trolls.”
Mr. Nudi said General Mills also has been pleased with its marketing in the category.
“Our heart health messaging on Cheerios continues to work,” he said. “Cinnamon Toast Crunch continues to really rock behind a great kid message. And we have a new partnership with Chrissy Teigen and John Legend on Chex Mix. So again, we love the fundamentals of the business.”
Mr. Nudi did acknowledge the category experienced a deceleration in sales growth in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter, when sales in the segment increased in the 20% range.
“As we really dug into it, one of the things to keep in mind is the comp,” Mr. Nudi said. “So if you think about last summer, kids were at home. This summer, they were as well. As we move into the fall, we know that only about 25% of kids are actually back at school full time. And we know that when kids are at school, they tend to eat breakfast and lunch, in many cases, at school. So we would expect the category to pick up as a result in Q2. We’re starting to see that in the early days of the back-to-school period here. And we’ll continue to watch that very closely. But again, we do expect the category to accelerate presumably through Q2.”
Net income at General Mills in the first quarter ended Aug. 30 totaled $638.9 million, equal to $1.04 per share on the common stock, up 23% from $520.6 million, or 86¢ per share, in the same period a year ago.
Quarterly sales rose 9% to $4.4 billion.
Sales for General Mills’ North American Retail Segment increased 14% to $2.7 billion, with US Cereal sales increasing 10%.