While General Mills’ decision to rid Original Cheerios of GMOs has generated an enormous amount of publicity, it has not, apparently, translated to the top line.
A spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-USA: "Consumer response has been largely positive, but we really haven’t seen any impact on sales."
In an interview with Associated Press (click HERE ), CEO Ken Powell added that he had received supportive letters and online comments about the high-profile move, but was "not really seeing anything there that we can detect" in terms of a sales lift.
In fact, sales have been "down somewhat" for the Cheerios brand, added Powell, who has been praised by some observers for addressing consumer concerns about GMOs, but criticized by others who claim the reformulation sent out mixed messages to consumers, given that General Mills' position on GMOs hasn't changed.
Our reported net sales for Yoplait were down 8% in Q3
Speaking on the firm’s third quarter (2014) earnings call this morning, Powell said there had been improvements in the cereals side of the business and strong performances from recent launches such as Nature Valley Breakfast Biscuits and Fiber One Meal Replacement Bars, but yogurt remained a challenge.
He added: “The U.S. yogurt category wasn’t immune to the food industry slowdown this winter. After posting 9% retail sales growth through the first half of the fiscal year, retail sales for the yogurt category grew just 3% in our third quarter. Retail sales for our yogurt business in total declined in the quarter.
“Our reported net sales for Yoplait were down 8%, reflecting lower volume and the increased merchandising, but our sales trends in the marketplace are improving, and we’ll keep our foot on the gas to fuel momentum in this business.”
Since January, however, turns on Gen Mills’ Greek varieties have increased, and the firm has "gained dollar share nearly every week versus last year, reaching more than 10% of the Greek segment in the most recent period”, he added.
Q3 net sales were down 1% to $4.4bn, while net earnings grew 3% to $411m. In the US retail segment, net sales declined 2% and pound volume was down 1%.