Gluten-free, high-protein mark General Mills launches
by Monica Watrous
MINNEAPOLIS — Launches planned for fiscal 2014 across General Mills, Inc.’s broad scope of businesses reflect consumer trends in high-protein snacks, bold flavors, gluten-free and on-the-go eating.
The company offered a glimpse of its robust pipeline during a June 26 call with financial analysts to discuss fiscal 2013 earnings.
“Our global categories of ready-to-eat cereal, super premium ice cream, convenient meals, wholesome snack bars and yogurt are projected to grow at attractive rates in the years ahead,” said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer. “Innovation will be the key driver of this growth, and we’ve got strong plans to do our part in fueling that category growth in 2014.”
Rolling out in the cereal aisle are Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme puffs and gluten-free Vanilla Chex. The company also is introducing a ready-to-eat cereal alternative in BFast breakfast shakes, available in vanilla, chocolate and berry flavors and boasting the nutrition of a bowl of cereal and milk.
“Breakfast is a huge category; it’s a huge occasion,” Mr. Powell said. “I’m going to guess $100 billion or more of products consumed at breakfast, so that is a big ocean. And people drink beverages at breakfast and are interested in convenience. And so, we just see an opportunity there and are simply capitalizing on it. It is too soon to say how big it is, but clearly we think it is interesting.”
New wholesome snack products include Nature Valley Greek Yogurt Protein bars in mixed berry and strawberry flavors, Nature Valley Protein Granola in honey oat and dark chocolate oat varieties and Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares in peanut butter and cinnamon brown sugar flavors, as well as a peanut butter variety of Fiber One Protein Bars and lemon and coffee cake flavors of Fiber One 90-calorie bars.
In the chip section, the January-launched Green Giant vegetable-based snack chips will expand this summer with barbecue potato chip and garden ranch tortilla chip varieties.
General Mills’ organic and natural offerings will grow with yellow corn and blue corn dipping chips from Food Should Taste Good and two new flavors in Larabar’s Uber line of fruit and nut bars: sticky bun and coconut macaroon.
“Sales for our Larabar all-natural fruit and nut bars continue to grow at a robust double-digit rate,” Mr. Powell said.
In the freezer, bold new flavors from Totino’s frozen pizza rolls include Buffalo-style chicken and jalapeño popper bites, and a line of frozen Old El Paso Mexican entrees will debut with shredded beef burritos, chicken fajitas, steak quesadillas and chicken enchiladas.
General Mills hopes to accelerate growth in the yogurt category with a high-protein variety of Go-Gurt and Yoplait Fruitful, which contains a third of a cup of real fruit per serving. Set to debut in July is a line of Yoplait Greek blended yogurts in strawberry, blueberry, vanilla, coconut, tangerine and pineapple varieties.
“It’s a filtered Greek yogurt, it has absolutely a terrific taste profile, and we believe that that will be very well conceived by consumers,” Mr. Powell said.
Gluten-free baking mixes and Hershey’s chocolate dessert mixes join the Betty Crocker lineup. A new gluten-free line of refrigerated dough products from Pillsbury feature pie crust, pizza crust and cookie dough.
“Our Pillsbury and Betty Crocker brands are the leading players in refrigerated dough and shelf-stable baking products, categories that generate a combined $4 billion in retail sales,” Mr. Powell said.
Beefing up the Hamburger Helper brand is the Ultimate line of just-add-meat dinners, packaged with a sauce- or cheese-based pouch and available in such flavors as three-cheese marinara.
“We are quite excited about that product as well, which we think will extend that franchise in a nice direction,” Mr. Powell said. “So, again, it’s about refreshing and renovating these core brands and bringing good innovation.”