General Mills playing a ‘winning game’ in cereal segment


PARIS — Minneapolis-based General Mills, Inc.’s cereal portfolio is playing a winning game against its competitors, said Jeffrey L. Harmening, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, in a June 7 presentation at the Deutsche Bank dbAccess Global Consumer Conference in Paris.

In a conversation with research analyst Stephen Powers, Mr. Harmening had a positive outlook on the company’s cereal segment, specifically citing the company’s recent Minis cereal launches.

“Our new products have led the category, including the launch of Minis cereals more recently, Reese’s Puffs and Trix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minis, but soon to become Lucky Charms Minis and Cocoa Puffs Minis,” Mr. Harmening said. “And so that whole line has done really well. Our innovation pipeline in cereal looks really good.”

When asked about the impending separation of the Kellogg Co.’s cereal business into an independent branch, Kellanova, Mr. Harmening agreed that it is important to keep a close eye on competitors’ moves while maintaining a focus on development and innovation.

“I would start by saying that the most important thing that we can do in cereal is continue to play our game,” Mr. Harmening said. “I mean it’s been a winning game. And the worst thing we could do is get distracted by what other people are doing, even if we were paying attention to it.”

He added that he believes that everyone in the cereal category has been playing rationally, and while Kellogg is likely to have an increased focus on cereal after its split, he also believes they have given the category a lot of focus in the past.

“They’ve been a very rational competitor for a long, long time,” he said. “I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be rational going forward, as is Post (Consumer Foods), as is General Mills. And so it’s not clear to me that competition in the cereal category is going to change really that much at all depending on what Kellogg does. And in that sense, the most important thing for us to do is stay on our game.”


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