PARIS — Jeffrey L. Harmening, chairman and chief executive officer of Minneapolis-based General Mills, Inc., discussed the resilience of the company’s foodservice sector in a June 7 presentation at the Deutsche Bank dbAccess Global Consumer Conference in Paris. Mr. Harmening attributed General Mills’ success in foodservice to three main drivers: moving the convenience store business from foodservice to North American retail, manufacturing branded products and supplying food to schools.

“I think it’s also helpful to note that for us, our foodservice business is largely branded products, and unlike maybe some others in this space, it’s a little bit more resilient to downturns because a big piece of our business is in kindergarten through 12 grade schools and colleges and universities,” Mr. Harmening explained. “So as long as our kids are in the classroom, that business tends to do well. During the first few months of the pandemic, it wasn’t so good. But since then, it has tended to do really well. And … we started to do some in-store bakery, which is also going quite well, and we do some restaurant business, which I think will probably be a little bit more challenged in the near term.”

Last year, General Mills completed the acquisition of TNT Crust LLC from a private equity firm affiliate in a move that Mr. Harmening also referenced as a major growth driver. TNT Crust manufactures frozen pizza crusts for regional and national pizza chains, foodservice distributors and retailers.

“When you put all those three things together, our North America foodservice business has been growing,” Mr. Harmening said. “We’re confident it will continue to grow. And the focus that we have in the business, including this new TNT pizza crust business, has also been growing quite nicely as well.”

Noting that the foodservice category brings in $2 billion in sales annually, Mr. Harmening said part of General Mills’ success comes from using its capabilities in retail to complement the sales organization and technical abilities already at play in the foodservice sector.