Behavior Change
General Mills Removing Artificial Flavors, Colors from Cereals by End of 2016

General Mills cereals has committed to removing artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources from the rest of its cereals in response to consumers’ changing preferences. The company says more than 60 percent of its cereals, including Cinnamon Toast Crunch and original Cheerios (which also went non-GMO last year), are already made without artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources, and have been that way for some time.

According to a survey conducted by Nielsen on behalf of General Mills, 49 percent of households are making an effort to avoid artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources.1 To respond to this growing need, General Mills cereals will be using more recognizable, familiar ingredients to create its colors and flavors.

“At General Mills cereals, we have been upgrading the nutrition and ingredients in our cereals for years to meet people's needs and desires,” said Jim Murphy, president of the General Mills cereal division. “We’ve continued to listen to consumers who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels and challenged ourselves to remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals.”

General Mills cereals plans to have more than 90 percent ofwill be among the first of the remaining brands to change. Trix will now use ingredients such as fruit and vegetable juices and spice extracts such as turmeric and annatto to achieve the fun red, yellow, orange and purple colors. Reese’s Puffs will continue to use peanut butter and cocoa and incorporate natural vanilla flavor to achieve the same great taste that adults and children have always enjoyed. Consumers can expect to see the updated Trix and Reese’s Puffs cereals on store shelves this winter.

The continued consumer paradigm shift to plant-based diets

Hear the latest on shifting consumer preferences toward more plant-based, planet-friendly foods from Daniel Vennard, Director of the World Resource Institute's Better Buying Lab — at SB'20 Long Beach.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and we know some products will present challenges as we strive to uphold the taste, quality and fun in every spoonful of cereal,” acknowledged Kate Gallager, General Mills’ cereal developer. “Cereals that contain marshmallows, like Lucky Charms, may take longer, but we are committed to finding a way to keep the magically delicious taste as we work to take out the artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources.”

The General Mills Cereal Journey:

  • In the 1930s, General Mills began fortifying Kix cereal with some B vitamins, as well as vitamin D and minerals.
  • By the end of 2017, the goal is to have all General Mills cereals free from artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources.
  • In 2005, General Mills converted the entire line of Big G cereals to include at least eight grams of whole grain per serving. Today whole grains is the first ingredient in all General Mills Big G cereals, delivering 37.5 million whole grain servings per day — a 50 percent increase since 2004.
  • Since 2007, General Mills lowered sugar levels in kid cereals by more than 16 percent on average.
  • As of January 2011, all General Mills cereals advertised to kids have 10 grams of sugar or less per serving.

General Mills is the latest food and beverage giant to respond to consumers’ renewed interest in simpler, healthier food: In February, Nestlé USA boldly committed to removing all artificial flavors and FDA-certified colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of 2015, a change that will affect its current portfolio of more than 10 chocolate brands and 250 products; and in May, Panera Bread committed to remove artificial additives and published a No No List of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives that the Company has eliminated or intends to remove from its U.S. Panera Bread® and St. Louis Bread Co.® bakery-café food menus by the end of 2016.

1Based on an online survey conducted by Nielsen on behalf of General Mills from 8/18-9/8/14 among a national sample of 31,375 Nielsen Homescan Panel households.

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