General Mills is one of the world's leading food companies, although its principal focus is still on North America where Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms and others are fierce rivals to Kellogg in the breakfast cereal and snacks sector. General Mills is also a leader in the similarly competitive yogurt and chilled dairy sector through the Yoplait brand. The group operates in a wide range of other segments. Other important US brands include Progresso soups, Totino's frozen pizza, Nature Valley granola bars, Cascadian Farm organic foods and Betty Crocker baking products and meal kits. Until comparatively recently General Mills operated in other territories primarily through joint ventures (such as Cereal Partners which markets the company's breakfast cereals under the Nestlé brand). However this changed in late 2000 with the acquisition of Diageo's Pillsbury division, including its operating subsidiaries in Europe and Asia. That deal doubled the company's size and added famed brands such as Old El Paso, Green Giant, Pillsbury and Haagen-Dazs (outside the US) to the portfolio. General Mills' international footprint developed further in 2011 with the purchase of a 50% stake in the international Yoplait yogurt franchise, partnering its existing license for the US. After several years of comparatively few significant acquisitions, General Mills stepped into a brand new sector in 2018 with the purchase of US natural petfoods manufacturer Blue Buffalo, and it expanded this portfolio further in 2021 with an agreement to acquire the pet treats operations of Tyson Foods. However, that same year, the group reduced its international footprint, divesting its half-share in Yoplait in Europe to its partner in exchange for full control in of that business in Canada. Group revenues for the year to May 2020 were $17.6bn with net income of $2.2bn. Cereals, once the company's dominant segment, have gradually reduced in importance. Snacks are now General Mills' biggest global product line, ahead of cereal, and followed by convenient meals and meal kits, yogurt and frozen dough. Jeff Harmening is chairman & CEO.
Capsule checked 22nd May 2020
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Historical profile information for General Mills
Adbrands Daily Update 17th May 2021: General Mills is expanding its pet foods business in the US with a deal to acquire the natural pet treats division of meat processing giant Tyson Foods for $1.2bn, roughly five times annual sales. Brands included in the deal are True Chews, Nudges and Top Chews. Tyson will continue to supply meat ingredients for the products. The deal will lift General Mills' pet foods sales to over $2bn annually.
Marketer Moves 6th May 2021: CMO departs at General Mills. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Mar 2021: As rumoured earlier this month, General Mills has confirmed an agreement to sell its controlling stake in Yoplait yoghurt in Europe to its joint venture partner Sodiaal in return for the latter's minority stake in Yoplait Canada. General Mills already wholly owns Yoplait in the US.
Adbrands Daily Update 8th Mar 2021: According to French business newspaper Les Echos, General Mills is in final negotiations to exit the Yoplait business in Europe through a sale of its majority stake back to partner Sodiaal, the French dairy co-op. The US company acquired 51% of Yoplait's operations in 2011. It has held rights to the Yoplait brand in the US since the late 1970s and there are no apparent plans to exit that business. However, it sold its interest in Yoplait China in 2019 to a local private equity firm.
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Jun 2019: A disappointing final quarter, especially in North America in cereal, yogurt and snacks, depressed performance from General Mills for the year to 2019. However some of those declines were offset by a strong contribution from petfood division Blue Buffalo, reporting its first full year since acquisition in 2018. Group revenues were $16.9bn, with net earnings of $1.75bn, but pet food alone contributed revenues of $1.4bn, providing all the overall group's year-on-year growth.
Adbrands Social Media 7th Mar 2019: "Prom Dress / DMV". Here's a great, unexpectedly edgy, very funny campaign from indie shop Erich & Kallman for General Mills' Reese's Puffs cereal. Though the majority of its marketing has always been squeaky clean family friendly, Big G has never been afraid of shaking things up from time to time. Remember how they upset the applecart a few years ago with some of the first packaged goods ads in America (for Cheerios) to feature same sex and interracial couples? And there's often been a darker sense of humour lurking behind the bright smiles. Now, these ads aren't going to start any revolutions, but top marks for acknowledging not only the angst-filled frustrations hiding behind teenage rites of passage, but also the fact that a fast sugar fix tops even a desire for independence or an end to the patriarchy.
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