General Mills becomes more ‘consumer-connected’ by achieving sodium reduction target

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

General Mills has successful achieved its sodium reducation commitment set a decade ago. Pic: GettyImages/adrian825
General Mills has successful achieved its sodium reducation commitment set a decade ago. Pic: GettyImages/adrian825

Related tags General mills Sodium Fda Cheerios Nestlé Campbell soup Unilever Pepsico

General Mills has met its goal to reduce sodium by 20% across all 10 of its key US product categories; a commitment it set in 2010.

The Cheerios maker reported the three remaining key categories – breakfast cereals, Mexican dinners and ready-to-eat soup, and cereal - have now successfully achieved the target.

It also said it has made significant sodium reductions in other segments not included in its initial commitment, such as frozen breakfast items, dessert mixes, grain snacks and frozen appetizers.

Additionally, it has boosted the nutrient density of its products by increasing whole grains, fibre, vitamins and minerals across the 10 food groups, which include cereals, variety baking mixes, savoury snacks, refrigerated dough products and frozen pizza, along with dry dinners, Mexican dinners, canned vegetables, side dishes and soups.

“We are making clear progress in becoming a more consumer-connected General Mills as evidenced by our continued work and commitment to sodium reduction,”​ said Tom Hockenberry, senior director of General Mills’ Innovation, Technology & Quality team.

“As we continue on this journey, we have actively invested - and will continue to do so – in developing the advanced technical solutions that will be required to achieve additional sodium reductions.”

The company added that, over the last decade, its work has led to ‘novel discoveries that will allow meaningful sodium reduction while also meeting consumer, food safety, functional and shelf life demands.’

Cut the salt

Mounting research has demonstrated that excess sodium can be bad for consumers, so reducing it has become a leading challenge for the food industry in the past few years.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the average per-capita daily sodium consumption by Americans is around 3,400mg, almost 50% more than the recommended level.

In 2016, the FDA called for producers to voluntarily limit sodium consumption to 3,000mg daily by 2018 and to 2,300mg daily by 2026. The current Dietary Guidelines recommends less than 2,300mg daily (about 1 teaspoon).

As more consumers prioritise healthy eating, so they are consciously reducing their sodium intake by checking labels and limiting salty snacks.

As such, General Mills is not alone in reformulating recipes to maintain its bottom line – the company generated net sales of $16.9bn in fiscal 2019 – and join ranks with other major CPG companies, including Nestlé, Campbell, Unilever and PepsiCo, that have demonstrably cut the sodium content in packaged foods.

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