- General Mills plans to "renovate" 60% of its yogurt business within the next year. That will include adding new Greek yogurt varieties, flavors, and organic options under the Annie’s and Liberte brands. They will also be debuting yogurt-based smoothies, major packaging changes, and new brands like Go Big for tweens who have outgrown their Go Gurt brand.
- President and COO Jeff Harmening said that the company's yogurt portfolio is currently "not aligned with the trends." He spoke at an investor day event on Wednesday.
- The company admitted it had too many "regular" and "light" yogurts.
All of these changes are meant to help General Mills get back on track with changes in yogurt consumption trends that the company had fallen behind on.
That includes balancing its portfolio across segments positioned for growth, such as increasing the 21% of its yogurt business the company currently derives from Greek yogurt. In all brands, Greek yogurt comprised almost half of overall retail sales in the last fiscal year. Organic yogurt accounts for 6% of yogurt retail sales and grew 12% last year, but General Mills currently has no offerings in that segment.
Yogurt is General Mills' third-largest category behind cereal and snacks. It makes up 16% of the company's total business, or about $2.8 billion annually. So these changes are necessary for sustainable revenue growth for the company as a whole, especially as General Mills continues to work on turning around the cereal category.
Getting up to speed with trends and consumption habits is also crucial because competitors have either kept up or led the innovation themselves.
Chobani, an established leader in Greek yogurt, recently introduced Greek yogurt-based dips and drinks as a way to extend the category into beverages, liquid meal replacements and savory snacks. That announcement came not long after the company announced a $100 million incremental investment to expand one of its yogurt plants.
Danone recently moved to acquire WhiteWave Foods, a leader in plant-based, premium and organic dairy, which will give the company access to fast-growing yogurt brands like Wallaby.
General Mills already made a bold move that was not yogurt-specific, but it could have a major impact across the sector. In March, the company vowed to begin labeling GMO ingredients across its portfolio, including yogurt. That was months before Vermont's mandatory GMO labeling law went into effect July 1 and before both houses of Congress voted to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill that is now on its way to the president's desk.
Not long after, Danone made a different announcement: The company would remove GMO ingredients from its three flagship brands: Dannon, Oikos, and Danimals, which comprise about half the company’s U.S. sales volume. Danone debuted the first of those products this week.