General Mills Making 'Green Giant' Move Into Veggie Chips

Published in CSP Daily News

Getting "jolly" over better-for-you snacks

MINNEAPOLIS -- General Mills Inc.'s Green Giant, a brand synonymous with vegetables, is expanding into to the burgeoning "veggie chip" market, reported The Star Tribune. The company recently rolled out cheddar-flavored Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips and sea salt-flavored Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips.

"We have the best equity in vegetables," Jon Nudi, head of General Mills' U.S. snacks business, told the newspaper. "And one of the things we see is a trend toward veggie snacks."

It has previously taken its Fiber One brand from the cereal aisle to the snack bar shelves.

Snacks have been the hot growth spot for packaged food firms worldwide, and General Mills is embracing the trend, the report said. From Nature Valley bars to Chex Mix, snacks have been General Mills' strongest U.S. business over the past five years.

The boom in snacks mirrors changes in consumer eating habits, ­particularly the trend of on-the-go eating. And food firms face a paradox, said the report--people want to be healthier, but at the same time they yearn to snack on chips and cookies.

"As people snack more, they are increasingly looking for 'better-for-you' snacks," Nudi said.

General Mills has its indulgent treats, but it skews toward healthier snacks like Fiber One bars and granola-based products, food industry analysts said.

The snack surge is also helping to drive financial improvements in General Mills' foodservice division, a $2 billion business that sells through schools, health care facilities and convenience stores

"C-stores are the champion of snacking," Dave Dudick, General Mills senior vice president for bakeries and foodservice, told the paper.

General Mills also has been building a snacking business in its natural and organic foods division through the purchase of Larabar energy bars and Food Should Taste Good salty snacks.

In the United States, snack growth has been strongest in healthier snacks, according to the report, citing Euromonitor, and that includes snack bars--General Mills' forte. The company led the U.S. snack bar market in 2012, gaining share on Kellogg, the solid No. 2 player and maker of Nutri-Grain and Special K bars, the report said.

General Mills is one of the world's leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries. Its brands include Cheerios, Fiber One, Haagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso and Wanchai Ferry. Based in Minneapolis, it had fiscal 2012 worldwide sales of $16.7 billion.

Click here to read the full Star Tribune report.