General Mills executives today will share the company’s new product innovation plans during the company’s annual Investor Day meeting at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
“Product innovation is the fuel that creates category growth,” says Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General Mills. “We have a robust new product plan, with more than 200 new items being introduced worldwide in the first half of the year alone.”
New products from General Mills have already begun flowing into the global marketplace this summer, such as Vanilla Chex cereal and Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares in the U.S., Liberte Greek yogurt in the U.K., Yoki Kit Facil convenient dinner kits in Brazil and pint-sized Haagen-Dazs Secret Sensations ice cream in Europe.
Around the world, General Mills reveals it is responding to consumer demands for taste, health and convenience at a good value. Several consumer trends are driving General Mills’ new product development for the first half of this fiscal year:
Mini-meals to maintain energy
As consumers eat more snacks and mini-meals throughout the day, they are seeking ingredients such as protein or fiber in convenient, portable foods to fill them up and give them energy, according to General Mills. In 2012, snacking made up 53 percent of all eating occasions in the U.S., up from 49 percent of all occasions in 2010.
In the first half of fiscal 2014, General Mills will launch a number of convenient options that deliver protein or fiber, including:
• Nature Valley Protein Granola cereal in the U.S.;
• Nature Valley Greek Yogurt Protein bars in the U.S.;
• Fiber One Protein Peanut Butter bars in the U.S.;
• Fiber One 90 Calorie Lemon Bars;
• Fiber One 90 Calorie Cinnamon Coffee Cake bars in the U.S.;
• New Yoplait Greek yogurt and Yoplait Greek 100 multipacks in the U.S.;
• Go-Gurt Protein in the U.S.;
• Larabar Alt bars in the U.S.;
• Yoplait Yopa! yogurt in Canada; and
• Liberte Greek yogurt in the U.K.
Convenient meals with premium, exotic or global flavors
On average, U.S. consumers devote less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook an evening meal, so convenience is important—right after taste—in deciding what to make for dinner, General Mills says.
In the U.S., demand for convenience is greatest among Millennials and Boomers—the two demographic groups projected to lead population growth over the balance of the current decade. Among General Mills new convenient meal options in the U.S. are:
• Ultimate Helper premium dinner kits;
• Old El Paso Mexican Cooking Sauces, Old El Paso Frozen Entrees and Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff Soft Flour Tortillas; and
• Progresso Heart Healthy soups.
Convenience also is increasingly important to the rising number of middle-class consumers in global emerging markets who also want meals that please the whole family, according to General Mills. Convenient meals launching across the company’s global portfolio include:
• Yoki Kit Facil dinner kits in Brazil;
• New regional flavor varieties of Wanchai Ferry dumplings in China; and
• Old El Paso One Pan Rice Meals in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Indulgence with high-quality ingredients
While convenience, value and health are increasingly important to consumers, equally important are great taste and high-quality ingredients. This summer General Mills will introduce a number of products for consumers looking for the taste of chocolate.
Betty Crocker and Hershey fans will get to experience a new line of cookie mixes, cupcake mixes and frostings made with iconic flavors, including Hershey’s, Reese’s and Almond Joy. These products will roll out nationally in the U.S. in July.
• Betty Crocker Caramel Brownie, available exclusively at convenience stores in the U.S.; and
• Pint-sized Haagen-Dazs Secret Sensation ice cream in Europe.
After hearing from both consumers and General Mills’ employees about the difficulty of finding gluten-free foods that are great-tasting, affordable and available at local grocery stores, General Mills in 2008 became one of the first leading food manufacturers to respond to consumers’ demand for gluten-free products.
Today, General Mills offers more than 300 products for the increasing number of consumers seeking to live gluten free. New gluten-free products launching in the U.S. this summer include:
• Vanilla Chex cereal;
• Betty Crocker Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix and Gluten Free All-Purpose Rice Flour Blend;
• Pillsbury Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Gluten Free Pie and Pastry Dough and Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza Dough; and
• Larabar uber bars in Baklava, Sticky Bun and Coconut Macaroon flavors.
While ready-to-eat cereal remains the most popular at-home breakfast choice in the U.S., General Mills sees emerging opportunities to tap into its breakfast category expertise to create new options for increasingly on-the-go consumers with these products launching in the U.S. this summer:
• Nature Valley Soft-Baked Oatmeal Squares;
• Pillsbury Heat-N-Go Mini Pancakes and Pillsbury Heat-N-Go Mini Waffles; and
• Bfast, a shelf-stable, drinkable breakfast shake.
Other significant new product launches for the company’s U.S. retail business in the first half of the fiscal year include:
• Totino’s Bold Rolls—Jalapeno Popper and Buffalo Chicken style rolls;
• Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme cereal;
• Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips in a Garden Ranch variety and Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips in a Barbecue variety;
• Mott’s Strawberry Apple Fruit Flavored Snacks; and
• Food Should Taste Good Blue Corn and Yellow Corn Dipping Chips.
General Mill reports this lineup builds on a strong year of new product innovation in fiscal 2013, including standouts such as Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt, Fiber One Protein bars and Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch cereal. New General Mills items launched in the company’s U.S. retail division in the last 12 months contributed 5 percent of the U.S. retail division’s net sales in fiscal 2013.