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General Mills taps into health trend with 2010 reformulation efforts

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 26-Nov-2010

General Mills has reformulated products representing a quarter of its US retail sales during the 2010 fiscal year to improve their health profiles, the company has said.

Changes included adding whole grains, vitamins and minerals, as well as reducing calories, saturated and trans fats, sugars and sodium. The company has also added half a serving of whole grain, fruit, vegetables or low or nonfat dairy to some products, and reformulated others to meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for a product to be considered healthy.

Executive vice president, global strategy, growth and marketing innovation for General Mills Marc Belton said: “Our goal is to provide nutritious foods that – when combined with exercise and activity – can help people live longer, healthier lives. And we're by no means finished. Consumers are responding very strongly to great-tasting, healthy foods, and we're going to continue to push the envelope on improving the nutrition profile of our many products."

The company’s focus on reformulation is part of an industry-wide trend toward making ‘better for you’ products. Earlier this year, the Grocery Manufacturers Association released results of its Health and Wellness Survey, conducted by Georgetown Economic Services, which has been polling 57 companies since 2002, representing about 50 percent of all food and drink sales in the United States. It found that from 2002 to 2009, respondent companies have introduced more than 20,000 products that have been reformulated to be healthier choices for consumers – and such introductions have doubled in the past three years.

Leader of the General Mills Bell Institute Susan Crockett said: "Importantly, our new and improved products still deliver the great taste consumers love. But equally important, we are also making products healthier – and our ability to deliver improvements on products representing 25 percent of our 2010 US retail sales is a real accomplishment."

Across the food industry, the biggest area for reformulation efforts since 2002 has been reduction or elimination of trans fats, according to the GMA’s survey, followed by reducing or eliminating saturated fats.

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