Lucky Charms to go gluten-free

Dive Brief:

  • General Mills Inc. has announced its cereal brand Lucky Charms will soon be gluten-free. The gluten-free version will appear on store shelves in September with national distribution beginning in October.
  • The change made was the same needed to make Cheerios gluten-free, which was altering the oat flour. The oats used for the flour are already gluten-free but will now be specially sorted to remove the small amount of wheat, rye, and barley in the company's supply of whole oats. This will make the flour gluten-free compliant for the FDA.
  • The cereal's other ingredients, including the marshmallows, are already gluten-free.

Dive Insight:

With Rice Chex, Cheerios, and Lucky Charms, gluten-free products will comprise an estimated more than half of General Mills' cereal sales and 17% of total category sales, according to MarketWatch. Last month, General Mills also pledged to remove artificial colors and flavors from its portfolio of cereals, though the company admits, this could change the look of the cereals consumers have come to know over the years, including Lucky Charms and some of its iconic marshmallows.

"The reality of the changing food values of our consumers is central to what we’re doing,” CEO Ken Powell told The Wall Street Journal. "It’s not just the elimination of gluten and artificial colors, but the products we’re launching are simpler."

In yesterday's earnings report, General Mills announced its Q4 profit had halved $186.8 million because of a $260 million impairment charge while numbers like net sales, total segment operating profit, and diluted EPS all fell for fiscal year 2015. The company's every attempt to appeal to consumers' changing preferences and lure them back to processed foods won't be surprising at this point, as most processed foods companies are struggling as well.

Filed Under: Corporate
Top image credit: Steve Winton