Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - North AmericaEU edition | Asian edition

News > Manufacturers

5-minute chat with FoodNavigator-USA and BakeryandSnacks

GMO-free Cheerios: Did General Mills buckle to consumer pressure? Will the move backfire?

2 commentsBy Kacey Culliney & Elaine Watson , 10-Jan-2014

Loading...

General Mills’ move to go GMO-free on its flagship Cheerios brand has caused quite a stir. But what motivated this reformulation? And how will it play out?

FoodNavigator-USA editor Elaine Watson and BakeryandSnacks’ Kacey Culliney chew over some of their thoughts and what they’ve heard elsewhere.

General Mills announced its move to make GMO-free Cheerios at the very beginning of this year . The reformulation hasn’t taken much work as the dominant ingredient, whole grain oats, are already GMO-free. But the cereal major has now replaced its beet sugar with cane sugar and switched to non-GMO corn starch.

A surprising move without warning

BakeryandSnacks editor Kacey Culliney: Reformulation move came out of the blue

Kacey Culliney said the move came without any prior hints from a company that has stood strong on the use of genetically modified ingredients (GMO) for a considerable length of time.

“At the moment, I’m not sure myself of the motive behind the move, but what I do know is that it was a surprising one and I don’t think I’m the only one to have been surprised.”

She said that last year when activist group GMO Inside launched an anti-GMO campaign against General Mills and its competitor Kellogg, General Mills had stood strong on its use of GMOs, as did Kellogg.

Balancing business values and consumer engagement

Elaine Watson said that from a business stand-point, it was important for large consumer brands to show they were listening to consumers and engaging in the debate around GMOs and this was certainly one way to prove that.

“I think they’re also dipping their toes in the water and seeing what the reaction is. To me, it does feel a little bit like they’re trying to have their cake and eat it here.”

FoodNavigator-USA editor Elaine Watson: Move could send out mixed messages to consumers

She likened this move to the lean finely textured beef ‘debacle’ – where information from the company about the safety of ingredients got lost.

Did they just buckle under ‘consumer pressure’?

General Mills has steered clear of associating the move with 'consumer pressure' but did acknowledge that they wanted to see how consumers will react.

However, Elaine Watson said the move to remove GMOs from Cheerios could prove a confusing message for consumers. "If GMOs are safe, then why are they dropping them? And if there is a problem, even if it's just one of consumer perception, why are they only changing one recipe?" she said.

Kacey Culliney added: “How this fits into consumer sentiment is probably one of the most interesting parts of it all.”

She said that on the one part GMO Inside had claimed “a pretty big win” but General Mills was stepping away from the idea that the move was a result of consumer pressure.

Elaine Watson said it would be interesting to see how it played out and what the rest of the cereal industry and General Mills’ competitors had to say.

Have you got any thoughts on General Mills’ move to make Cheerios GMO-free? How do you think this will shape up for their business? And what do you believe the motivation to be behind it? Leave your comments below…

2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Cheerios are often given to children

This makes sense also because Cheerios are commonly given to little kids; parents are more fussed about what they give their little ones than they are about what they eat themselves (or even allow older children to eat).

Report abuse

Posted by M Carlson
13 January 2014 | 19h15

A Product for Concerned Citizens

I think they took the product with the cleanest ingredient deck and made it a little cleaner so they could sell something that appealed to people who are concerned about GMO's and artifical ingredients and the like.

In contrast, they indicated that no other products will get the non-GMO treatement, which makes sense since most are also loaded with sugar and aritifial flavors and colors, so GMO is the least of people's concerns with them.

Plus the non-GMO food supply chain currently couldn't handle a full fledged shift from a company as big as General Mills, so even if they wanted to make the shift they couldn't.

Report abuse

Posted by Jim
11 January 2014 | 01h35

InHarvest: Legumes, pulses steal spotlight from animal protein

At the 2014 Research Chefs Association Conference & Culinology Expo, FoodNavigator-USA caught up with...

SFA head: ‘A little term called class action suits’ is prompting GMO removal

SFA head: ‘A little term called class action suits’ is prompting GMO removal

Genetically modified organisms are safe and there is a need and place for them...

Could oats be the next gluten-free star?

Could oats be the next gluten-free star?

Oats, when the supply chain ensures no cross-contamination, are a gluten-free cereal grain. So...

Fed up: Probiotic research veteran issues global call to action

Fed up: Probiotic research veteran issues global call to action

Veteran probiotic researcher professor Gregor Reid is not a happy man. It’s time the...

GMO-free Cheerios: Did General Mills buckle to consumer pressure? Will the move backfire?

GMO-free Cheerios: Did General Mills buckle to consumer pressure? Will the move backfire?

General Mills’ move to go GMO-free on its flagship Cheerios brand has caused quite...

Irish firm offers (cheaper) heat resistant probiotics for infant formula

Irish firm offers (cheaper) heat resistant probiotics for infant formula

Sinéad Doherty, PhD

Founder, AnaBio Technologies

Conservative North American dairy more 'open to innovation': Chr Hansen

Conservative North American dairy more 'open to innovation': Chr Hansen

Roy Riley

Marketing Director Cultures and Enzymes, Chr Hansen

Unilever joins with Solidaridad to tackle sustainable sugar cane challenge

Unilever joins with Solidaridad to tackle sustainable sugar cane challenge

Dirk Jan de With

VP Procurement Ingredients & Sustainability, Unilever

Royal Crown launches ‘world's best’ stevia-sweetened cola with 50% less sugar

Royal Crown launches ‘world's best’ stevia-sweetened cola with 50% less sugar

Moshy Cohen from RCCI promises that the firm’s mid-calorie Neo cola with stevia -...

In conversation with the mastermind behind the €250,000 lab-grown burger

In conversation with the mastermind behind the €250,000 lab-grown burger

Last year Professor Mark Post sparked international interest with the unveiling, and tasting, of...

Food Vision 2014: Bridge knowledge gaps, overcome change and work sustainably

Food Vision 2014: Bridge knowledge gaps, overcome change and work sustainably

What is the future of food? Simple communication of complex advances will be crucial,...

Talking Rain CEO: Pepsi and Coke weren’t even looking at sparkling waters

Talking Rain CEO: Pepsi and Coke weren’t even looking at sparkling waters

Talking Rain’s Sparkling Ice brand plugs a market gap that Pepsi and Coca-Cola missed,...

Innovation for today: Digital tech empowers industry to innovate

Innovation for today: Digital tech empowers industry to innovate

Chris Cornyn

founder & president, DINE Marketing

Global probiotic market to add 50% to €33bn by 2018: Analyst

Global probiotic market to add 50% to €33bn by 2018: Analyst

Ewa Hudson

Global head of health and wellness research , Euromonitor International

Protein has a big ‘ordinary’ future, says Glanbia

Protein has a big ‘ordinary’ future, says Glanbia

Carla Clissman

European commercial director, , Glanbia Nutritionals

Another BRIC in the weight management wall as sector hits $150bn globally in 2013

Another BRIC in the weight management wall as sector hits $150bn globally in 2013

Ewa Hudson

Global head of health and wellness research, Euromonitor International

FiE video: Almond Board of California talks global supply and demand

FiE video: Almond Board of California talks global supply and demand

Richard Waycott

President & CEO, Almond Board of California

Hollywood ‘Monstrosity’? Shocking video shows Dr Pepper BioViper spewing foam

Hollywood ‘Monstrosity’? Shocking video shows Dr Pepper BioViper spewing foam

Shocking video footage shows foam spewing out of Dr Pepper’s BioViper wastewater treatment plant...

Bread’s riches to rags story: The villainous white loaf and heroic whole grain

Bread’s riches to rags story: The villainous white loaf and heroic whole grain

The bread sector has experienced a riches to rags story and is now in...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...