BATTLE CREEK, MICH. —“Listening to consumers” was a theme that played out for the Kellogg Co. in 2011 — especially in the areas of nutrition and health — according to details in the company’s fourth annual Corporate Responsibility Report, released April 20.
“We play an important role in improving consumer health by innovating new products and enhancing the nutrition credentials of beloved favorites,” John Bryant, chief executive officer, wrote in the report’s executive summary. “Around the world, we have been steadily and consistently reducing the sugar, sodium and fats in our foods, while increasing fiber, whole grains and nutrients to respond to consumers’ nutrient needs.
“Consumers are seeking out products with fewer ingredients and are asking for ingredient statements that are easier to understand. And we’re delivering; many of our cereals, for example, have five or fewer ingredients (not including added vitamins and minerals). We also have been working to make our packaging labels more visible and better understood.”
One example of Kellogg listening to its customers may be seen in the launch last year of Rice Krispies Gluten Free in the United States. Kellogg said it received numerous requests from consumers with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity prior to the product’s launch. The company recently introduced the cereal in Canada this year.
Consumers also expressed a desire to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup. Kellogg said it removed all HFCS from its cereals in the United States during 2011, as well as from Rice Krispies Treats. The company currently is working to remove HFCS from Nutri-Grain Bars.
“Although the science supports no difference between the way the body absorbs HFCS and other sugars, our consumers asked us to remove HFCS — and we listened,” Kellogg said. “We removed HFCS from Kellogg’s cereals to address consumer perceptions, rather than a scientifically based recommendation. HFCS is not used in other markets globally.”
Demand for healthier products, especially for children, led Kellogg to add its first new children’s cereal brand in the U.K. market in more than 20 years. Mini Max, similar to Mini-Wheats sold in the United States and Canada, is a lightly frosted shredded wheat cereal that is high in fiber, low in salt, low in saturated fats, and a source of iron and vitamins B and D. The combination of nutrients pass the U.K.’s guidance for what may legally be advertised to children, Kellogg’s said.
Adding fiber remains an ongoing initiative at Kellogg. In 2011, the company launched more than 30 reformulated or new Kellogg products so that they meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for childhood nutrition, including Eggo FiberPlus waffles, which provide 35% of the recommended daily value of fiber per serving.
In sustainable agriculture, Kellogg has been working more closely with farmers who grow its grains and has encouraged agricultural sustainability beyond its own supply chain, through industry partnerships and more.
Kellogg said some of its achievements in sustainable agriculture include:
•Initiating programs that aid sustainability among rice growers, including a partnership with Louisiana State University to jointly develop a certification program for Rice Master Growers to help ensure best practices.
•Shifting to sustainably grown palm oil in Europe, where it is available and, in other markets where neither a segregated nor mass balance supply are fully available, the company will help growers fund the transition to sustainably grown palm oil by purchasing Green Palm certificates to cover 100% of current palm oil use in 2012.
•Piloting agronomic support to help growers, after learning more about corn growing practices and differences between various regions through a survey in partnership with the Global Corn Council.
The full report is available at www.kelloggcorporateresponsibility.com.