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Dec 15, 2015

General Mills reports progress on pledge to reduce sodium

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Will be by 20 Percent across 10 key U.S. Product categories by 2015

General Mills today reported on progress it has made against its publicly stated commitment to reduce sodium by 20 percent across 10 key U.S. retail product categories by the end of 2015. General Mills has met or exceeded its stated goal in seven of ten categories, with reductions across the 10 categories ranging from 18 to 35 percent. 

The industry-leading effort encompasses sodium reduction initiatives on more than 350 of the company’s products, or more than one-third of its current U.S. Retail sales volume. The categories include cereals, dry dinners, frozen pizza, Mexican dinners, refrigerated dough products, savory snacks, canned vegetables, side dishes, soups, and variety baking mixes.  

Significant progress was also made in the three categories in which General Mills did not meet the aggressive 20 percent target, including a 19 percent sodium reduction in ready-to-serve soup, a 19 percent reduction in Mexican products and an 18 percent reduction in cereal.

General Mills Sodium Reductions By Category

 Product category Final weighted sodium reduction percentages*  Goal attained
Savory snacks 35% YES
Frozen pizza 29%   YES
Canned vegetables 28%  YES
Variety baking mixes 24% YES
Dinner mixes 21% YES
Refrigerated dough 21% YES
Side dishes 20% YES
Ready to serve soup 19% NO
Mexican dinners  19% NO
Cereal 18% NO


* Results based on sales weighted sodium values per category, calculated using labeled sodium values and weighted product ship volumes, comparing 2008 to 2015.  

“Sodium reduction has been effort key focus of our continuing efforts to improve the health profile of our products,” said Maha Tahiri, General Mills chief health and wellness officer and vice president, Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “Reducing sodium is not a simple task and we knew the 20 percent target would be a challenge. I am proud to have exceeded our very aggressive goals in seven of our key 10 categories, and to have come so very close in others.”

General Mills has taken a gradual approach to sodium reduction over time using small, incremental steps to introduce the changes gradually, giving people time to adapt their palates to the lower sodium levels.

“Taste is the main driver of food purchases – and we believe making repeated changes to accomplish a series of gradual reductions is the best way to continue to deliver the great taste consumers expect, while also supporting our commitment to the goal of reducing sodium intake in the American diet,” said Tahiri. 

Product developers have been able to reduce sodium in some recipes by adding additional spices to ensure the flavor of the food remains vibrant, and in others by adjusting the placement of the sodium –moving it to the food’s surface, for example, so it’s more readily tasted. 

General Mills has been focused on nutritional improvements since 2005, when it first established its “Health Metric” to track progress across its product portfolio. Improvements have included enhancing foods and nutrients to encourage such as whole grain, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and reducing nutrients of concern such as calories, sodium, sugar and fat, all while ensuring great taste.  In 2010, the company accelerated its sodium reduction efforts by publicly stating its pledge to reduce sodium by 20 percent in 10 key product categories. 


About General Mills

General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries around the world. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota., USA, General Mills had fiscal 2015 worldwide sales of US $18.7 billion, including the company's US $1.1 billion proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.