Grupo Bimbo & General Mills make Forbes ‘most innovative’ list

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Grupo Bimbo ranked 83 and General Mills ranked 91 in Forbes' World's Most Innovative Companies 2014 list
Grupo Bimbo ranked 83 and General Mills ranked 91 in Forbes' World's Most Innovative Companies 2014 list

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Mexican bread titan Grupo Bimbo and US cereal major General Mills have ranked on Forbes’ annual top 100 ‘most innovative’ companies list.

Forbes’ ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ list is calculated on innovation premiums, which are a measure of how much investors have bid up the stock price of a company above the value of its existing business based on expectations of future innovative results, for example new products, services and markets.

Grupo Bimbo ranked 83 with an innovation premium of 33.72% and General Mills 91 with an innovation premium of 33.13%.

Grupo Bimbo sales growth was pegged at 2.5% for the year to August 2014 and General Mills’ sales were up 0.8%.

Chris Brockman, researcher for food and drink EMEA at Mintel, said the rankings reflected company efforts to innovate in trending areas, including health, bite-size and gluten-free.

Grupo Bimbo: Managed to retain healthy innovation

“Grupo Bimbo has grown strongly through acquisition in the US market in recent years, requiring significant internal focus on restructuring and reorganisation. However, it has managed to retain a focus on innovation as well,”​ he told

He said the company had done particularly well with NPD in ‘thins’, particularly through its Arnold Sandwich, Orowheat Sandwich and Thomas’ Bagel brands.

“Indeed, healthier breads as a whole is a big innovation focus of the company, matching where consumer demand is moving, with multigrain variants in particular appearing across its portfolio,”​ he said.

The company was also “very strong”​ in bagels and English muffins, innovating with limited edition variants, Brockman said.

For cakes, Grupo Bimbo had successfully tapped into the bite-sized indulgence trend, he said, with its Entenmann’s Little Bites range. “The range saw sales jump 12.4% for the year ending February 23, 2014 with a variety of new flavor launches recently.”

General Mills: Taking key trends mainstream

Brockman said General Mills had “been at the forefront of some of the key innovation trends for some time”.

For a major multinational, they had been very quick to jump on trends like gluten-free and added protein in recent years and successfully taken products mainstream, he said.

Gluten-free Chex cereal and gluten-free lines in Betty Crocker and Pilsbury were good examples, he said, along with a protein focus in Nature Valley, Fiber One and Cheerios.

The company had focused heavily on better-for-you snacks with Nature Valley and Fiber One, which was also a strong growth area, Brockman said.

For its Small Planet Foods part of the business – which covered Cascadian Farms, Larabar and Food Should Taste Good – General Mills had an “incubator approach for small, innovative, fast-growth brands positioned on a natural/health platform”,​ he said.

The full Forbes ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ list can be found HERE​.

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