General Mills, Minneapolis, says it has improved the health profile of 73% of its U.S. Retail sales volume since 2005. These improvements include enhancing positive nutrition, such as increasing protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, or reducing limiters such as calories, sodium, sugar and fat, all while ensuring great taste. In fiscal 2013 alone, the company improved more than 20% of its U.S. Retail sales volume and the nutritional improvements touched all General Mills U.S. Retail platforms, including Baking, Cereal, Dairy, Meals and Snacks.

Reductions in sodium and calories, and increases in whole grain were among the main health improvements General Mills achieved in fiscal 2013. As with past years, all reported improvements were significant, meaning a 10% or more improvement was achieved, according to the company.

"Health is a core growth strategy for the company," says Maha Tahiri, General Mills' chief health and wellness officer who oversees the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. "Since General Mills began tracking health improvements in fiscal 2005, we have made considerable progress. Today, we can point to more than 750 products, both new and reformulated, that have been influenced by our Health Metric criteria, spanning our entire portfolio and accounting for nearly three-quarters of our fiscal 2013 U.S. Retail sales volume."

Health Metric is a corporate initiative overseen by General Mills’ Health and Wellness Council and the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition that is used to encourage and measure the company's progress on nutrition and health improvements.

In fiscal 2013, General Mills says it continued to make strong progress toward its goal of reducing sodium, on average, by 20% in its top 10 categories by 2015. This sodium reduction effort represents about 40% of the company's U.S. Retail portfolio—everything from snacks to soups to side dishes. Fiscal 2013 improvements include sodium reductions of at least 10% in several shelf-stable Green Giant vegetable offerings, as well as a number of Suddenly Salads and Helper dinners.

In addition, calorie reductions contributed to the overall Health Metric progress in fiscal 2013. A notable calorie reduction occurred in Yoplait Light, which was reduced to 90 calories. General Mills also introduced a new lower calorie dairy option–Yoplait Greek 100, with 100 calories, and a Weight Watchers PointsPlus value of two points per serving.

According to General Mills, increasing whole grain continues to be one of its focus areas, given that 95% of Americans still aren’t getting enough whole grain in their diets. In fiscal 2013, the company continued to make progress in incorporating whole grain across its portfolio of products.

Innovation in General Mills' Snacks category also contributed to Health Metric progress in 2013. The company introduced several new products this year that combine important nutrients and taste great:

  • Fiber One launched Fiber One Protein Bars. Each chewy snack bar packs at least 20% of the Daily Value (DV) of fiber and 10% of DV of protein per serving.
  • Fiber One also introduced a new 90 calorie brownie flavor, Chocolate Chip Cookie, and then extended the line this past summer to include Lemon Bar and Cinnamon Coffee Cake. All Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies offer 20% DV of fiber and are available in a variety of flavors.
  • Using pea protein, Lärabar created a bar called Lärabar ALT, The Alternative Protein Bar. Lärabar ALT bars deliver 10 g. of protein and come in four favors.

Fiscal 2013 is General Mills' ninth year of tracking and quantifying health improvements using its Health Metric.

Source: General Mills