Pharos-Tribune

Business

July 9, 2014

Recipe for higher sales: Add fiber, cinnamon

NEW YORK — General Mills hopes a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of fiber will be a recipe for stronger sales.

The Minneapolis-based company is doing things like adding more cinnamon to its Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and rolling out fiber-packed "better for you" cookies to boost the performance of its brands, which include Pillsbury dough, Betty Crocker baking mixes and Progresso soups.

General Mills executives sat down with The Associated Press this week to discuss these and other ways the company is trying to increase sales, which were essentially flat in its last fiscal year.

The company, which last month announced a cost-cutting plan that will include a review of its manufacturing plants, is working to adapt its offerings as it grapples with the changing eating habits of Americans.

The surging popularity of Greek yogurt in recent years, for instance, blindsided the company's Yoplait yogurts. And the move toward foods that people think are fresher has hurt Hamburger Helper, which last year was renamed "Helper" in a nod to people who prefer chicken.

Here are some insights executives shared with AP ahead of the company's investor day in New York City:

CONQUERING THE COOKIE AISLE

General Mills is entering the cookie aisle for the first time with a "better-for-you" cookie. Its new Fiber One cookie has 5 grams of fiber and 120 calories. A Pepperidge Farm chocolate chip cookie, by contrast, has no fiber and 140 calories.

Food makers have been adding nutritional benefits — particularly fiber and protein — to a wide variety of products to ease the guilt often associated with snacking. Fiber One, for instance, started as a cereal but has since expanded to a variety of snacks, including brownies and more recently, a blueberry streusel bar.

General Mills isn't the first to bet people want healthier cookies; Kellogg's Kashi cookies list 12 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of fiber.

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