MINNEAPOLIS — Through the addition of whole grains, fiber and calcium, and the reduction of calories, sugar, sodium and trans fat, General Mills, Inc. managed to improve the nutrition profile of nearly 16% of its U.S. Retail product sales during 2012.
The gains in health and wellness were a cornerstone of the company’s “Global Responsibility 2013” report issued on April 30.
At the conclusion of fiscal 2012, General Mills said 68% of its U.S. retail sales volume came from nutritionally improved products. This compared with 64% of such products in fiscal 2011, 60% in fiscal 2010, and compared with only 16% of the company’s products when tracking began in 2005. In total, the company has nutritionally improved more than 650 of its products since 2005.
Much of General Mills’ efforts on nutrition have come in whole grains. In 2011, General Mills claimed every Big G cereal had at least 9 grams of whole grain per serving. The bar was raised in 2012, as General Mills reached “a multiyear reformulation milestone” by upping the whole grain content to at least 10 grams per serving in every Big G cereal. More than 20 General Mills’ cereals deliver at least 16 grams, the company added.
The movement has resulted in making the main ingredient in every Big G cereal whole grains. A similar effort is under way with Cereal Partners Worldwide, a joint venture between General Mills and Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland. General Mills said all global brands offered by C.P.W. currently have at least 8 grams of whole grains per serving, and the company is working to increase levels of whole grains so it is the main ingredient in all C.P.W. cereals.
General Mills also has a broad commitment to reducing sodium in its products while meeting consumer taste requirements. In 2008, the company committed to trim sodium, on average, by 20% in its top 10 categories by 2015.
“We are on track to meet this ambitious, industry-leading sodium reduction effort,” the company said. “This effort affects a significant portion of our portfolio — products from snacks to soups to side dishes. General Mills has made strong progress toward this goal with sodium reductions in fiscal 2012 across our product portfolio.”
In 2012, General Mills said it achieved more than 20% sodium reduction in its ready-to-serve soup category (four years ahead of schedule), and cut sodium by 30% or more in several Chex Mix varieties. The company also said it made strides reducing sodium in dry dinners, canned vegetables, frozen pizza and refrigerated dough. In fiscal 2012, General Mills had 1,641 U.S. retail stock-keeping units with 480 mg or less sodium per serving.
In the report, General Mills noted it has made good on its pledge to cut sugar content in cereals marketed to children. In 2009, the company announced it would reduce sugar in all its cereals advertised to children under the age of 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. In 2012, all General Mills cereals marketed to children are at 10 grams of sugar or less per serving. Four varieties — Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Frosted Toast Crunch and Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch — contain 9 grams of sugar per serving, down from 11 to 15 grams in 2007.
In addition to cereal, General Mills said it made headway on cutting the sugar content in its yogurts advertised to children. Since 2007, the company said it has lowered the average sugar level in Yoplait yogurts for children by more than 21%.
Since 2005, General Mills said it has achieved trans fat reduction in more than 150 of its U.S. Retail products. In 2012, the company continued that trend, removing trans fat by reformulating additional Pillsbury biscuits and crescents.
General Mills also said it is well positioned to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture standards for K-12 schools meals. The company already offers 70 products that meet the U.S.D.A. whole grain criteria, and it has a full portfolio of products with zero grams of trans fat that may be served throughout the school meal program.For the full report, visit www.generalmills.com.