General Mills, Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is a consumer food company that sells its products through retail sales, convenience stores, and foodservice customers in over 100 countries on six continents. U.S. consumers purchase many General Mills products, including cereals, soups, pizzas, and desserts from grocery stores. The firm also sells products through membership stores, such as Sam’s Club, as well as foodservice distributors, drug stores, and dollar stores. The company's sales have been declining in the past three years as customers become less keen about processed food. In an effort to balance itself following the shift in customer preferences, General Mills announced a $8 billion acquisition of Blue Buffalo, a high-end pet food products company, in February 2018. On June 27, 2018, General Mills reported that 2017 Q4 earnings fell 13%, and they have an optimistic outlook for the 2019 fiscal year.
Here are some businesses owned by General Mills.
General Mills purchased EPIC Provisions on Jan. 6, 2016. EPIC is a snack company based in Austin, Texas, and the business produces natural, meat-based snacks, including EPIC Bars, EPIC Bites, and Harvest Mix. This acquisition allows General Mills to compete in a new snack category and increases the firm’s line of organic products. EPIC sells meat, fruit and nut bars through stores such as Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers.
General Mills acquired Annie’s Inc. in October 2014. Annie’s is an organic food company founded in 1989, and the co-founders formed the business to make an organic macaroni and cheese product for families. The owners sold a successful white cheddar popcorn business to Frito-Lay before starting Annie’s. Since the company’s founding, the firm has expanded into pasta, snacks, soups and yogurt products, and the business focuses on simple, natural ingredients. In 2005, Annie’s purchased Annie’s Ingredients, a separate company that makes organic salad dressing and condiments. Annie’s is a firm that benefits from a growing brand loyalty for organic foods.
Small Planet Foods
General Mills purchased Small Planet Foods in the year 2000. Small Planet’s product line includes Cascadian Farm, an organic food producer with 75 products, including cereals, granola bars and frozen fruits. Muir Glen is another product line for Small Planet, and this company sells tomato-based products, such as jarred tomatoes, pasta sauce, salsa and ketchup. Small Planet carries the Larabar snack bar line, along with Food Should Taste Good chips. All of Small Planet’s product offerings focus on organic, natural ingredients.
General Mills closed its purchase of the Pillsbury division of Diageo P.L.C. in 2001. Pillsbury continues to produce many popular food brands, including Old El Paso Mexican food, Green Giant vegetables, Progresso Soup and Yoplait yogurt. The firm is also known for its biscuits, cookies and Bisquick breakfast products. The Pillsbury purchase allowed General Mills to diversify its product line, which was heavily dependent on cereals, to drive revenue.
General Mills has a joint partnership with Häagen-Dazs Japan, a firm that was sold to Pillsbury in 1983 and acquired by General Mills when Pillsbury was purchased in 2001. Häagen-Dazs Japan offers ice cream flavors and other products that are only sold in Japan.
Cereal Partners Worldwide
Cereal Partners Worldwide (CPW) is a joint venture with Nestlé, and the business is the second largest cereal maker in the world. CPW distributes cereal brands to 150 countries around the world, including gluten-free and lower-sugar versions of popular brands, including Cheerios.
General Mills has several distribution channels. Convenience store customers, for example, are most interested in ready-to-eat products, which means that cereals, snacks, yogurt and breakfast items drive sales in this market. The foodservice market, on the other hand, provides food to restaurants, hotels, hospitals, vending machines and schools. As an example, the firm is expanding its Pillsbury frozen breakfast product line to serve the K-12 school market, along with Old El Paso lunch products. General Mills also sells products through traditional grocery stores and natural food stores.
The Bottom Line
General Mills has a huge presence in the United States and in international markets. The firm continues to acquire food businesses to add market share and address customer preferences.