General Mills registers 50% e-commerce growth in Q4 2020

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: General Mills
Photo: General Mills

Related tags General mills e-commerce Cereal

General Mills launched direct-to-consumer brand sites that could quickly ship products to consumers to better support shopping during the pandemic -- a strategy that helped increase its share of net sales from the e-commerce channel in categories most impacted by at-home eating, including meals, baking and cereal in Q4 2020.

"We drove nearly 50% growth in e-commerce net sales in fiscal ‘20, including accelerated growth in the fourth quarter as consumers increasingly turned to this channel for their shopping needs,"​ said General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening in its Q4 2020 earnings call.

"We pivoted to meet consumers where they were shopping by adapting content on our food websites, such as, to encourage cooking education and drive stronger e-commerce sales. We’ll build on this in fiscal ‘21 by further investing in e-commerce and adapting our plans for growth,"​ Harmening added. 

Total net sales for the company increased 21% to $5bn and organic net sales were up 16%, primarily reflecting a significant increase in at-home food demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company. Its North American retail segment registered 36% growth in net sales to $3.2bn, according the the company's Q4 filing. In cereal, General Mills delivered a third consecutive year of retail sales growth. Snack bar and fruit snacks registered 11% growth, while yogurt sales decline 1% for the quarter, reported the company. 

Innovation, Harmening said, will remain a key priority for General Mills moving forward.

"Turning to innovation, I have seen us move and innovate faster in recent months than ever before. In fiscal ‘21 we will continue to innovate across all aspects of our business, our existing businesses, creating new business, how we work, and how we go to market,"​ said Harmening.

In its US snacks portfolio, the company the launched a new Nature Valley Packed sustained energy bar made from nuts, seeds, and fruit. In yogurt, General Mills will be introducing new keto-friendly yogurts with 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of net carbs, and 15 grams of protein per serving. 

"Even in a time of uncertainty, we know ... innovation remains critical to our business, so we are planning to bring high-quality new products to market this year, even if quantity may be lower than in years past,"​ said Harmening. 

Hear more insights from General Mills on how the pandemic has impacted its business by listening to FoodNavigator-USA's Unlocking Innovation Webinar available on-demand​. 

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