MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. is looking to five global platforms — cereal, pet food, ice cream, snack bars and Mexican food — to drive organic net sales growth of 2% to 3%, said Jeff Harmening, chief executive officer, during a Feb. 16 virtual presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference.
Investments in the five platforms are part of General Mills’ Accelerate strategy, which also includes higher investments in fast-growing local brands like Pillsbury, Annie’s, Yoplait and Totino’s, and bolt-on acquisitions and divestitures representing 5% of net sales.
The company will prioritize investments in eight core markets, including France, the United Kingdom, Australia, China, Brazil and India, with a focus on North America.
“Our No. 1 priority is to win and grow profitably in North America,” Mr. Harmening said. “We are clear in the markets that are going to drive our growth. We're also clear about where we're prioritizing across platforms and brands… Our five global platforms represent about 45% of our worldwide net sales, and we expect them to lead our growth into the future. We’re also prioritizing a collection of leading brands with more localized growth potential. We call these brands local gems, and together they represent about 35% of our global sales.”
Speeding up the pace of innovation is key to the company’s Accelerate strategy. That means more experimentation with greater efficiency, Mr. Harmening said.
“We've revamped our entire innovation process with a focus on getting new products into the hands of consumers faster,” he said. “Now, we can measure the time from an idea to a first consumer transaction in weeks, rather than months or years. We're seeing the results, with our sales contribution from new products increasing 30% from just a few years ago.”
General Mills has seen success from innovation across core platforms including Cinnamon Cheerios, Old El Paso tortilla pockets and Pillsbury heat-and-eat desserts, he added.
Investments in data analytics also are key to the company’s Accelerate strategy.
“We’re gathering unparalleled insights from the first-party data we collect through our brand websites and then are responsibly using this data to capitalize on trends for the benefit of our brands,” Mr. Harmening said. “We're also leveraging our scale to enhance our core capabilities, including our holistic margin management productivity program, our strategic revenue management initiative and e-commerce.”
The final aspect of the Accelerate strategy, being a force for good, centers around four priorities: regenerating the planet, improving food security, strengthening communities, and advancing inclusion.
“These are areas where General Mills can have a real impact, and they're inherently tied to the success and sustainability of our business,” Mr. Harmening said.
The company has committed to advancing regenerative agriculture practices on 1 million acres of farmland, representing around a quarter of its raw material footprint across North America. The efforts are helping the company make progress on its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% across its full value chain by 2030 and reaching net zero emission levels by 2050.
General Mills also is promoting sustainability initiatives on packages with its Annie’s and Epic products. On Feb. 16 it unveiled a new Nature Valley snack bar wrapper designated as store drop-off recyclable. It plans to implement the new packaging across the brand’s entire portfolio of snacks by 2025 before extending it to other brands and products.
“Being a force for good is not simply about mitigating risk,” Mr. Harmening said. “It is also an increasingly critical aspect of how we connect with consumers and grow our business.”