In an effort to combat rising obesity and health-related issues, Minneapolis-based General Mills is reformulating its Big G cereals to be either “good” or “excellent” sources of whole grains. This move precedes the expected January release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which stresses the importance of whole grain intake and advises consumers to substitute whole grains for refined grains.
To signify the whole grain move, the company is launching new packaging that allows consumers to identify whole grain ready-to-eat cereals. The company says the new packaging contains “bold, attention-getting” whole grain labeling. The new packaging is currently being used on select brands of cereal, and will be rolled out across the company’s portfolio continuing into 2005.
“General Mills is committed to using packaging, advertising and other communication tools to greatly elevate the visibility of whole grain foods in America,” says Susan Crockett, who is the senior director of Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, the nutrition research arm of General Mills. “You’re going to be hearing a lot about whole grain in the coming months, and General Mills hopes to help you wake up to the benefits of whole grains.”
Before committing to whole grain formulations, the company conducted taste tests with more than 9,000 people. In these tests, the company said that consumers “liked just as much or even better” the new whole grain cereals compared to the previous cereal formulations.
Many in the baking industry are turning to whole grains to boost sagging volume declines and enhance the reputation of grain-based foods, which took a significant public relations hit due to the onslaught of reduced carbohydrate diets. General Mills’ announcement garnered significant national press, further boosting whole grain’s profile to consumers. Currently, the bread aisle is being flooded with whole grain bread introductions and many baking executives say that whole grain breads are the wave of the future (See story on page 8).
General Mills’ foray into whole grain formulation is nothing new for the company. Currently, its Cheerios, Wheaties, Total and Wheat Chex cereal brands are “excellent” sources of whole grain.