The packaged food maker outlined its growth strategy at its investor day on Wednesday, July 11 and introduced a new lineup that it said will “appeal to anybody at any moment of the day.”
Chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening said the company remains committed to its Consumer First strategy, which means deeply understanding what consumers are looking for, and responding quickly to give them what they want.
“In a world of high change, it's clear to me that Consumer First is more relevant than ever. I firmly believe that when we serve our consumers and give them what they want, we win every time,” said Harmening.
“And when we win, our employees win, our communities win, and our shareholders win.”
Convenience, health and cravings
The new line-up includes Betty Crocker mug treats; Epic Performance Bars crafted with cage-free egg whites; YQ yogurt that contains lower levels of sweeteners than the company’s other brands; two new flavors of Dippin’ Dots cereal: Banana Split and Cookies ‘n Cream; and Häagen-Dazs stick bars and mini cups.
“We’re thinking bigger about unmet needs that people might have when it comes to their food choices,” said Jodi Benson, chief innovation, technology and quality officer at General Mills.
“For some, convenience is key. For others, diet or allergy restrictions play a main role in food choices. And in some cases, the need is simply to fulfill the craving for a delectable treat,” added Lanette Shaffer, a senior innovation, technology and quality director.
“Our new product lineup fulfills each of these needs.”
Harmening told analysts and investors the company continues to broaden its approach to brand investment, leveraging a wider variety of vehicles beyond media advertising, including point of sale, packaging, and sponsorships.
Following a mixed bag of results for its fourth-quarter and full-year fiscal 2018, General Mills announced it plans to close its plants in Vineland, New Jersey, and Melbourne, Australia, laying off 625 employees.
The company posted a 0.8% rise in full-year sales to $15.7bn, but a 2.2% drop in operating profit.
Sales at the US meals and baking division fell 2% in the quarter, but increased by 2% in the US snacks and cereal units.
“Fiscal 2018 represented an important first step in returning our business to sustainable topline growth,” said Harmening.
“We made significant progress toward competing more effectively this year, with strong innovation, marketing, and in-store execution driving positive organic sales growth in each of our last three quarters.
“While our full-year profit results fell short of our initial plans, we finished the year delivering growth in sales, margins, profit, and EPS in the fourth quarter.”
According to analyst Jonathan Feeney of Consumer Edge Research, General Mills expects 5% of its sales growth to come from new product offerings in the year ahead, up from 3.8% in the previous year.