Category Captain: Natural and Organic Foods: General Mills

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Category Captain: Natural and Organic Foods: General Mills


The natural/organic industry had another good year despite economic pressures, and General Mills is proving itself a leader in the $81 billion category with its Small Planet Foods group.

Annual planning with top retailers resulted in category and brand sales that outpaced the national average. Accolades for General Mills’ Cascadian Farm brand include voted Best-tasting Granola (Cooking Light), Best Raisin Bran (Real Simple) and Best Granola Bar (Self). Cascadian Farm, the fastest-growing natural/organic brand, has brought sales growth, new product innovation and renewed interest to the cereal category. The brand’s Organic Grain Bars outpaced the category with strong growth in traditional grocery and the natural channel. Meanwhile, the Larabar brand has introduced new items, capitalized on customer marketing efforts and expanded distribution, with growth outpacing the category.

Cascadian Farm introduced two new organic cereals -- Chocolate O’s Organic Cereal in the underdeveloped and fast-growing natural/organic kids’ segment, and French Vanilla Almond Granola into the already strong granola segment -- plus three new organic granola bars.

Through extensive work with its mainstream category management counterparts, Cascadian Farm Organic Cereal and Grain Bars now have best practice planograms that offer placement principles for retailers to shelve natural/organic items in the mainstream aisle, yielding strong sales growth.

Another retailer-driven initiative was designed to answer the question “Why Carry Organic?” Consumer-based turnkey materials established the need to carry organic options and defined the differences between organic and “natural” items. Category platforms for all eight Small Planet Foods key categories are available for retailer reviews. This past year, Small Planet Foods helped 15 key retailers gain valuable perspective on how shoppers feel about natural/organic, and were able to identify opportunities and assess the success of the grocers’ at-shelf efforts.