News Releases

Oct 11, 2011

General Mills marks strong year of health improvements


One-fourth of U.S. Retail sales volume nutritionally improved in fiscal 2011; nearly two-thirds nutritionally improved since fiscal 2005

MINNEAPOLIS – General Mills today announced that it improved the health profile of products comprising approximately 25 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume in fiscal 2011. General Mills first began tracking and quantifying health improvements in 2005. Between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2011, the company has improved the health profile of 64 percent of its U.S. Retail sales volume. Improvements have included adding whole grains, fiber and calcium, and reducing calories, sugar, sodium and trans fats.

Improving the health profile of our products is a major strategy for General Mills,” said Marc Belton, executive vice president, Global Strategy, Growth and Marketing Innovation. “Our improvements are strongly tied to what we’re hearing from consumers. They’re seeking healthful, great-tasting foods that fit their lifestyles – and we are committed to improving the nutrition profile of our existing products and introducing innovative, new products that are both nutritious and taste great.

Some examples of fiscal 2011 improvements include:

  • Increased Whole Grain: We continue to add whole grain to our Big G cereals. In fiscal 2011, we launched additional brands with whole grain including a new variety of Cascadian Farm cereal and Good Earth Dinner Kits, each with at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving. 
  • Increased Calcium and Vitamin D: In fiscal 2011, we increased the calcium and vitamin D in Yoplait Original to 50 percent of the recommended Daily Value of calcium and 50 percent of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin D in every cup.
  • Reduced Sugar: General Mills continues to reduce sugar in cereal. Since 2007, we’ve lowered sugar levels in our kid cereals by more than 14 percent on average, with some reduced as much as 28 percent.General Mills announced in December 2010 that all cereals advertised to children had been reduced to 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, with some already at 9 grams per serving.
  • Reduced Sodium: We also continue to reduce sodium in cereal. We’ve reduced sodium by 10 percent across our cereal portfolio since 2008. In fiscal 2011, we also made significant strides in lowering sodium in other brands, including several Progresso soups, many Muir Glen tomato products and Shake ‘n Pour Bisquick.

"Our goal with all health improvements is to maintain the great taste, value and convenience consumers have come to know and trust from General Mills,” said Belton.

General Mills’ Health Metric
General Mills’ product improvements are driven by our desire to be a health and nutrition leader. Since 2005, General Mills has improved the nutrition profile of more than 600 different products in the U.S. in one or more of the following ways:

  • Formulating new products to include at least a half serving of whole grain, fruit, vegetables or low or nonfat dairy.
  • Reducing calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar or sodium by 10 percent or more.
  • Formulating new products to meet specific internal requirements that include limiting calories, and meeting “healthy” criteria per labeled serving.
  • Increasing beneficial nutrients such as whole grain, fiber, vitamins and minerals by 10 percent or more.

General Mills’ health profile improvements are tracked and quantified using  a proprietary “Health Metric,” created by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, to drive and measure the company’s progress on nutrition and health improvements.

“General Mills is committed to making our products nutritionally better,” said Susan Crockett, Ph.D., R.D., FADA and leader of the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “The improvements we’re announcing today mark a significant technical achievement. Product reformulations can be challenging given the unique role each ingredient plays in a recipe. However, our steady progress reinforces our commitment to being a health and nutrition leader, delivering on our consumers’ desire for healthier product options.”

In 2009, for example, General Mills announced it would reduce sugar in all of its cereals advertised to children under 12 to single-digit grams of sugar per serving. As a result, today all General Mills kid cereals are at 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, down from 11 to 15 grams of sugar in 2007. 

In April 2010, General Mills announced it would trim sodium, on average, by 20 percent in 600 SKUs by 2015. This sodium reduction effort represents about 40 percent of the company’s U.S. Retail portfolio — everything from snacks to soups to side dishes. Today, General Mills announced strong progress toward this goal as well.

New Products in fiscal 2012
New products launched in fiscal 2012 also continue to reinforce General Mills’ innovative, healthful product portfolio:

  • Fiber One 80 Calorie Cereal – Each serving of Fiber One 80 Calorie cereal provides 40 percent of the Daily Value of fiber and calcium and 25 percent of the Daily Value of important vitamins and minerals including iron, vitamins B1, B2 and B6, folic acid and zinc, with just 80 calories per serving.
  • Yoplait Light with GranolaYoplait Light with Granola, launched in July, is yogurt with fruit on the bottom and a lid filled with 100 percent natural granola on the top. Flavors include Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach and Cherry.

For a complete overview of General Mills’ commitment to health and wellness, download a pdf of the company’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility Report

About General Mills
General Mills is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries.  Its consumer brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Progresso and Old El Paso. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2011 net sales of US$14.9 billion.

Learn more about General Mills by visiting A Taste of General Mills, the company’s corporate blog. 

Kris Patton
General Mills