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General Mills says health has become ‘a primary driver of innovation’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 22-Aug-2012

General Mills claims it has improved the nutritional profile of 68% of its product line by sales volume since 2005, reformulating to include more fiber, calcium and whole grains, and less sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar.

The company started tracking health improvements in its products in 2005, when it set goals for a number of reformulation challenges, such as cutting sodium by an average of 20% in its ten top-selling categories by 2015. The company says it has made “strong progress toward this goal.” And earlier in fiscal 2012, it said that it had reformulated its entire Big G cereal range – which includes Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Total, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cheerios – to ensure whole grain was the first and most prevalent ingredient on ingredient lists.

“Health improvements have increasingly become a primary driver of our innovation, both on existing products and as we develop new products,” said Marc Belton, executive vice president of global strategy, growth and marketing innovation at General Mills.

“We know that people expect great taste from our products, so we are careful to balance strong health benefits and health improvements with great taste.”

Now, every Big G cereal contains at least 9 grams of whole grain per serving, and more than 20 General Mills cereals deliver at least 16 grams of the daily recommendation of at least 48 grams per person.

Back in 2010, the company said that products representing 50% of its US retail line had been reformulated to improve health profiles, and the most recent changes included cutting sodium by 10% or more in products in its meals, cereals and snacks categories, adding fiber to some products, and removing trans fat from several Pillsbury brand products.

 It also reduced sugar in all of its cereals advertised to children to 10 grams or less, down from 11 to 15 grams of sugar in 2007.

In 2009, the company pledged to cut the sugar in all cereals promoted to children under 12 to single-digit grams per serving. In fiscal 2012, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp and Cookie Crisp Sprinkles were reformulated from 10 grams to 9 grams of sugar per serving.

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