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General Mills is committed to helping children and older people save grain



The grain category has declined over the past few years, as ever-increasing health-conscious consumers are turning to other alternatives. But cereal is important for General Mills: Along with yogurt, it constitutes about 30% of the company's total business.

To strengthen the category, General Mills tries a variety of things similar to nostalgic, sugary cereals and exploring new food trends. It also knocks on changing the demographics of the US to help boost sales, said Jonathon Nudi, North America's chief executive officer, General Mills retailer, during a recent investor day presentation.

According to the Federal Interagency Forum for Children and Family Statistics, the population of children in the United States has been declining or about flat in recent years. In 201
0, there were 74.1 million children in the United States. In 2017, the figure was 73.7 million. The group plans this number will cross up to 74.1 million by 2020, and hit 75 million by 2025.
At the same time, the US population is aging rapidly. The Census Bureau predicts that by 2035, older adults will exceed children for the first time in the United States.

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

While the millennia generally turned away from cereal as a meal – instead spoken during the day or switched to dessert – Children and older adults who eat cereal still like it for breakfast.

The stronger preference for cereals among older adults and children has been going on for decades, says Mike Siemienas, spokesman for General Mills [19659008] GIS ) .
  Lucky Charms is a favorite among the kids.

] Korn is popular with parents looking for an easy and convenient way to prepare breakfast for children, said Alexander Esposito, research analyst at Euromonitor International. And the sweet flavors tend to appeal to children, he added.

For people over the age of 55, cereals are attractive because it offers certa in nutritional benefits, such as fiber. While millennial and younger adults tend to care about "ethical labels", such as organic certifications and may try to avoid foods that use genetically modified organisms, for older adults, health problems are a little more real, Esposito said.

In addition, people who grew up eating cereals tend to eat less when they enter the workforce and start eating breakfast on the go, John Baumgartner, an analyst covering food at Wells Fargo, noted. When they hit the retirement age, they can return to the habit, he added.

  Bad news for General Mills: People splurge on pet food but not snacks for themselves

General Mills uses Cheerios specifically to advertise to customers worried about heart health. A "heart case" page on the Cheerios website notes that Honey Nut Cheerios "make heart health enjoyable." The company doubled its messages this year, Nudi said, "conveying the health benefits of this product to boomers."

Honey Nut and regular Cheerios are good with both children and older adults, says Siemienas. Two other brands that do well with children are Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms, he added. Older adults prefer Wheaties and Fiber One.

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

Cheerios continues a partnership with Ellen DeGeneres to try to reach their fans. Reese's Puffs, aimed at a younger audience, have collaborated with rapper Travis Scott. General Mills also renewed the look of cinnamon wreath, decorating the box with "Cinnamojis".

Baumgartner pointed out that General Mills only needs to keep grain sales stable to do well, because it relies on other parts of the business, such as snacks and pet food, for growth.

"They don't really need to have the cereal mix to be a growth category," he said. "As long as it's flat to a bit up, I think that's all they really need."


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