General Mills has improved the health profile of products accounting for 25% of its U.S. retail sales in fiscal 2010.

General Mills, health profile, health improvements, whole grains, fiber, reducing calories, Marc Belton, General Mills Health Metric, General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, nutrition, Cheerios, Yoplait, Green Giant, Nature Valley, Progresso, health and wellness, low-sodium

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General Mills makes products healthier

November 22nd, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS – General Mills has improved the health profile of products accounting for 25% of its U.S. retail sales in fiscal 2010.

The company — whose roster of over 100 consumer brands includes such household names as Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen — said Monday that improvements have included adding whole grains, fiber and calcium as well as reducing calories, sugar, sodium and trans fats.

"Our goal is to provide nutritious foods that — when combined with exercise and activity — can help people live longer, healthier lives, and we're by no means finished," Marc Belton, executive vice president of global strategy, growth and marketing innovation for General Mills, said in a statement. "Consumers are responding very strongly to great-tasting, healthy foods, and we're going to continue to push the envelope on improving the nutrition profile of our many products."

The improvements are tracked and quantified using General Mills Health Metric, created by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition as a way to encourage and measure the company's progress on nutrition and health improvements.

Since 2005, when the Health Metric was implemented, the nutrition profiles of more than 500 General Mills products have been improved in one or more of the following ways: increasing beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber; reducing calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar or sodium; formulating products to include at least a half serving of whole grain, fruit, vegetables or low or nonfat dairy; and meeting the FDA guidelines for a product to be considered healthy, according to the company.

General Mills noted that it furthered its commitment in December, announcing that it had already reduced sugar in cereals advertised to children to 11 grams of sugar or less per serving, and committed to reduce sugar on all cereals advertised to children under 12 to single-digit levels of grams of sugar per serving.

And in April, General Mills announced an acceleration of its goals to reduce sodium by 20% across multiple product categories by 2015. The company also detailed successful reductions already implemented on a number of products, including a 16% sodium reduction in Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, a more than 25% sodium reduction in select Progresso soups, and a 36% sodium reduction across the Chex Snack Mix line.

General Mills added that it continues to make health and wellness a priority across its product portfolio. Nearly 60% of the company's U.S. retail sales are comprised of products that have been nutritionally improved since 2005.

The commitment to healthier offerings, General Mills added, was extended with this year's introduction of several new products. Green Giant's expanded its Valley Fresh Steamers with Sauce line by adding Healthy Colors, a premium blend of colorful vegetables providing an excellent source of the antioxidants vitamins A and C. Total introduced Total Plus Omega-3s Honey Almond Flax cereal, which offers all of the nutrition of Total plus the benefit of omega-3 ALA.

In addition, Yoplait yogurt's newest launch, Yoplait Splitz, provides a good source of calcium and vitamin D at only 90 calories a serving, and new Nature Valley Granola Thins are 100% natural at just 80 to 90 calories per square. Also, Progresso introduced the first creamy light soup, with a Weight Watchers Points value of 1 per serving, and added new varieties to its fiber and low-sodium soup lines.