Corporate Profiles - 2020 - 78

COMPANY OVERVIEW

General Mills, Inc.
A year of lessons define company's strategy moving forward
year of lessons.
That is how Jeffrey L. Harmening, chairman and chief executive officer of General
Mills, Inc., summed up 2020 for the Minneapolisbased maker of Big G cereals and Totino's pizzas.
Between a global pandemic and nationwide
protests against police brutality, Mr. Harmening
told participants in a leadership and education forum hosted by the Consumer Brands Association in
mid-July that General Mills throughout 2020 found
it "spent less time talking to ourselves and more
time focusing on the problems of the day."
Fewer internal meetings meant the company
spent more time figuring out how to meet consumer needs and working with suppliers and retailers.
"The game is played on the outside, not the inside," Mr. Harmening said. "That's one of the things
that we learned."
Keeping production lines running and product
moving was critical to meeting a surge in demand
during the peak pantry stocking period in March
and April.
"I can't say for sure how much of the demand is
going to stick," Mr. Harmening said. "Some of it will,
because consumers have found something that in
some cases wasn't there before."
The company is seeking to maintain growth by
engaging with consumers through brand websites,

A

which offer recipes and step-by-step instructions
for home bakers.
"This pandemic showed that we need to be in
the business of solving real consumer problems, not
ones that are made up in our own minds," Mr. Harmening said. "We changed our approach of having really intricate, fancy things that people can do
with their baking items. Helping solve some of the
basic needs they have in their pantry is becoming
increasingly important."
The racial unrest that broke out in May following
the death of George Floyd prompted Mr. Harmening to
think more critically about General Mills' supplier base.
"There's a role for what goes into the brand," he
said. "Whether those are suppliers that supply ingredients, or whether those are suppliers for communication,
it's about making sure that we have as diverse a population of suppliers as possible, because nothing gets
people out of a current system like economic justice."
The company has announced several initiatives
aimed at addressing systemic racism, including

offering immediate relief to food pantries throughout the Twin Cities and contributing to the physical
recovery of buildings damaged during protests.
Longer-term efforts include engaging with other
businesses about ways to promote justice and diversity.
"General Mills is not going to recreate a police
policy, but we can lend our voice along with others,"
Mr. Harmening said.
Outside factors aside, General Mills was able to
deliver strong financial results in fiscal 2020. Net
income in the year ended May 31 totaled $2.18
billion, equal to $3.59 per share on the common
stock, up 24% from $1.75 billion, or $2.92 per
share, in fiscal 2019. Net sales increased 5% to
$17.63 billion from $16.87 billion a year ago.
In US Cereal, General Mills delivered its third consecutive year of retail sales growth and extended its
leadership position in the category, Mr. Harmening
said, gaining 70 basis points of share for the full year.
In US Snacks, General Mills followed through on
its goal to improve its focus on bars and fruit snacks.
In US Yogurt, General Mills has a number of
new items coming to market in the first half of fiscal 2021, including a keto-friendly yogurt with 1
gram of sugar, 2 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat available in five different
flavors, including strawberry, black cherry and coconut.
E-commerce has emerged as a vital part of General

Chief executive officer -
Jeffrey L. Harmening

General Mills, Inc. net earnings

General Mills, Inc. net sales

(fiscal years ended in May)

(fiscal years ended in May)

General Mills share price
$68

$2,131

$1,753

$2,181

2018

2019

2020

in millions

in millions

$62
$56
$15,740

$16,865

$17,627

2018

2019

2020

$50
$44

78 \ October 2020

Oct.
2019

Dec.

Milling & Baking News * Food Business News * Baking & Snack * Meat+Poultry * Pet Food Processing

Feb.
2020

Apr.

June

Aug.

Corporate Profiles



Corporate Profiles - 2020

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