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General Mills is committed to helping children and the elderly save corn



Grain category has shrunk in recent years as more and more health-conscious consumers turn to other options. But grain remains important to General Mills: along with yogurt, it accounts for about 30% of the company's total business.

To bolster the category, General Mills is trying out a variety of things, such as leaning on nostalgic, sugary cereals and exploring new food trends. It is also important that demographic data in the US change to boost sales, said Jonathon Nudi, Group President of North American Retail for General Mills, at a recent Investor Day presentation.

According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, the population of children in the United States has been declining or nearly unchanged in recent years. In 201
0, there were 74.1 million children in the US. In 2017, it was 73.7 million. The number of Group projects will rise to 74.1 million in 2020 and reach 75 million by 2025.
Meanwhile, the US population is aging rapidly. The Census Bureau predicts that in 2035, for the first time in the US, more older adults will live as children.

These groups have "some of the highest per capita consumption of grain," Nudi said. By catering to these customers, the company can "further improve the categories," he said.

While millennials generally turned away from cereal – instead of snacking during the day or occasionally exchanging it for a dessert – children and older adults who eat cereal still enjoy breakfasting.

The stronger preference for cereal in older adults and children has existed for "decades," said Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for General Mills [19659008] ( GIS ) .
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] Muesli is popular with parents who are looking for a simple and convenient way to prepare breakfast for children, said Alexander Esposito, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International. Grain is attractive because it offers certa in nutritional benefits, such as fiber. While millennials and younger adults are more interested in "ethical labels," such as organic certifications, and possibly trying to avoid foods that use genetically modified organisms, the health effects on older adults are "a bit more real," Esposito said.

In addition, people who grew up with cereal tend to eat less as they enter the workplace and start having breakfast on the way, notes John Baumgartner, an analyst on food for Wells Fargo. When they reach retirement age, they can return to habit, he added.

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[19659002] General Mills promotes Cheerios, especially for customers who are concerned about heart health. A "Heart Affair" page on the Cheerios website notes that Honey Nut Cheerios "makes heart health enjoyable". The company is doubling this messaging this year, Nudi said, "to help Boomers understand the health benefits of this product."

Honey nut and normal cheerios perform well in both children and older adults, said Siemienas. Two other brands that are good for kids are Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms, he added. Older adults prefer Wheaties and Fiber One.

To capitalize on the trend, General Mills tries to appeal to both age groups.

Cheerios continues to partner with Ellen DeGeneres to try to reach their fans. Reese's Puffs addresses a younger audience and works with rapper Travis Scott. General Mills has also revised the look of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and decorated the box with "Cinnamojis".

Baumgartner pointed out that General Mills only needed to keep grain sales constant in order to get good results as growth relies on other businesses such as snacks and pet food.

"Grain category does not necessarily have to be a growth category," he said. "As long as it's flat to slightly elevated, I think that's all you really need."


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