SUBSCRIBE

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

News > Manufacturers

Read more breaking news

 

 
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
Last updated on 10-Jan-2014 at 17:13 GMT2014-01-10T17:13:47Z

General Mills has moved to make its Cheerios GMO-free, but what impact will this have on business? How will consumers react?
General Mills has moved to make its Cheerios GMO-free, but what impact will this have on business? How will consumers react?
Loading the player...

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 | 19h152014-01-13T19:15:47Z

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 | 01h352014-01-11T01:35:40Z

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: What snacks are hot and where consumers buy them

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: What snacks are hot and where consumers are buying them is evolving

US consumers are snacking more than ever, according to IRI data, but an analyst...

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Confections hold steady in face of war on sugar

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Confections hold steady in face of the war on sugar

Despite significant headwinds generated by the escalating war on sugar and increasing consumer preferences...

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Driving ecommerce with omnichannel marketing

Soup-to-Nuts Podcast: Driving ecommerce sales with an omnichannel marketing approach

Sales of food and beverage online may be lagging significantly behind those of other...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Will Moringa steal kale's top superfood spot?

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Will Moringa knock kale out of the top superfood spot?

For years kale has reigned supreme as the go-to superfood for many Americans thanks...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Fair Trade certification tackles coconut supply

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Could Fair Trade certification help avoid a coconut shortage?

Ever since coconut water burst on to the US market several years ago, Americans...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Emerging class action litigation targets

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Emerging class action litigation targets

The number of class action cases filed against food and beverage companies continues to...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Threats to bees threaten whole food industry

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Industry stakeholders seek to take the sting out of threats to bees’ health

Spring has finally sprung, which means birds are chirping, crops are blooming and bees...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Top marketing strategies for natural products

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Clean label 2.0 and other top marketing strategies for natural products

When it comes to marketing products in the natural channel it seems like there...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The opportunity for medicinal mushrooms

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: The rising opportunity for mushrooms in food and beverage

Growing awareness of the powerful health benefits of mushrooms as well as increasing demand...

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional Organic

Soup-To-Nuts Podcast: Certified Transitional helps conventional farms make the switch to organic

Despite organic’s strong appeal with double-digit year-over-year growth since the early 1990s, and the...

Standardized language for expiration dates will help reduce food waste

Standardized language for expiration dates should help reduce food waste, according to GMA

According to the nonprofit Feeding America, 126 billion pounds of food is wasted each...

Vox Pop: In sports nutrition, 'usually just protein'

Vox Pop: 'Protein, and that's pretty much it actually'

Sports nutrition is a booming industry, with Euromonitor estimating a value of $7.4bn in...

Food Starter helps entrepreneurs break into food and beverage industry

Food Starter helps entrepreneurs break into the competitive food and beverage industry

Launching a food business takes more than secret family recipe – it also takes...

Braskem packaging changes color if a product is unfit for consumption

Braskem packaging changes color if a product is unfit for consumption

Marcia Pires

polymer science researcher , Braskem

How to shift perception of GMOs from good vs evil to simply a choice

Could the biotech disclosure law help shift perception of GMOs from good vs evil to simply a choice?

In many ways, the conversation about GMOs has been a debate about good versus...

SmartLabel helps brands meet consumers’ mounting clean label demands

SmartLabel gains traction as a tool for brands to meet consumers’ mounting clean label demands

While SmartLabel is still in its relative infancy, manufacturers are flocking to the technology...

Potential for Nutrition Facts label delay should not slow compliance

The potential of a delay to Nutrition Facts label changes should not slow compliance efforts

Assuming FDA does not delay the deadline for the new Nutrition Fact label as...

Arctic Zero CEO: Clean Label not just low sugar, low calorie, low fat

Arctic Zero’s new social media video campaign shows how ‘clean label’ is more than just ‘free-from’

With the launch of four new varieties, Arctic Zero produced a video to tell...

Manufacturers navigate greenwashing allegations

Manufacturers walk tightrope between demand for natural products and greenwashing allegations

Today’s consumers want products that are natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly, but manufacturers hoping...

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...

Promotional Features