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General Mills boosts natural foods portfolio with gluten free snacks deal

By Elaine Watson , 01-Mar-2012

General Mills has boosted its presence in the natural foods market with the acquisition of Massachusetts-based gluten free snack foods firm Food Should Taste Good for an undisclosed sum.

The business, which makes tortilla chips, kettle chips and other snacks, will become part of Small Planet Foods, General Mills’ natural and organic products business, joining brands including Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen and LÄRABAR.

Natural and organic snacks outpacing broader salty snacks market

Food Should Taste Good founder Pete Lescoe, who will stay on as creative director, said the deal would give extra momentum to the brand, which has become one of the largest natural snack brands in the US after only five years on the market.

The snacks - sold at club, natural, and mass market retailers in the US and Canada – are all certified gluten free with zero trans fats and no genetically modified ingredients. Many are also a good source of dietary fiber.

They compete in the natural and organic salty snacks category ─ a segment that has experienced double-digit sales growth for the past two years – well ahead of growth in the broader salty snacks category, said General Mills.

Gluten-free a ‘significant incremental opportunity’

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA.com last year, General Mills said it had identified gluten-free as a “significant incremental opportunity”.

The firm, which introduced gluten-free Chex cereals in 2008, Betty Crocker gluten-free brownies, cookies, desserts and cake mixes in 2009 and a pancake mix in 2010, is targeting a range of customers from diagnosed celiacs to those choosing gluten-free for ‘lifestyle reasons’.

But there was also growing demand from consumers with ‘gluten sensitivity’, said a spokesperson:“While celiac disease affects about 1% of the US population, experts believe there is a separate portion of the population that has a related and poorly-understood condition known as gluten sensitivity,which can result in stomach aches, gas and diarrhea.”

Set up in 2000 following the acquisition of Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen, Small Planet Foods has grown at a double-digit compound annual growth rate ever since, said General Mills.

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