General Mills ahead on nutrition improvements

by Eric Schroeder
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MINNEAPOLIS — Nearly 25% of General Mills Inc.’s U.S. Retail product sales during 2011 were made up of products with improved nutrition profiles, with most of the gains taking place from reducing trans fat and sodium, which each accounted for 26% of the fiscal 2011 improvement. The next largest gains came from adding vitamins and minerals (19%) and from increasing whole grain content (12%).

The improved health make-up of General Mills’ products, along with updates on the community and environment efforts, was detailed in the company’s “Global Responsibility 2012” report issued on April 3.
In 2005, only 16% of General Mills’ U.S. Retail sales volume came from nutritionally improved products, but in its 2012 report the company noted 64% now comes from such products.

General Mills identified Lucky Charms as a cereal that was reformulated in 2011. The cereal now has 20% more fiber, 25% more whole grains and 10% less sodium than in fiscal 2010. Additionally, the cereal has 10 grams of sugar per serving — down from 12 grams in 2007.

On the whole grains front, General Mills said every Big G cereal has at least 9 grams of whole grain per serving, and whole grains are listed as the first ingredient on every Big G cereal, a fact the company said “is important to health-conscious consumers who look to the ingredient list to assess the nutritional value of the food they eat.”

Since 2005, General Mills has reduced trans fat in more than 120 of its U.S. Retail products, and by the end of fiscal 2011 about 83% of the division’s sales volume was comprised of products with zero grams labeled trans fat.

“Most flavors of Betty Crocker SuperMoist cake mixes, virtually all Pillsbury Toaster Strudel products and many Pillsbury Crescent varieties are among the products that have been reduced to zero grams of trans fat,” the company said.

General Mills said it already has introduced several healthier new products in fiscal 2012, including Progress Reduced Sodium Tomato Parmesan soup, Gold Medal White Whole Wheat flour, Fiber One 80 Calories cereal, Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Pasta and Vegetables with Alfredo Sauce, Yoplait Chocolate Banana Smoothie and Simply Fruit Rolls.

The company said it is nearing the halfway mark toward achieving three of its 2015 global sustainability goals: water, solid waste and packaging.

In water, the company is about 50% of the way to achieving a 20% reduction in its water usage rate and a 50% reduction in its solid waste generation rate. Meanwhile, the company said it has improved the packaging for 27% of its sales volume — more than halfway to its goal of 40%.

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