More great news from Big Food: General Mills announced last week that it will double the acreage used to source organic ingredients, expecting to meet its goal of 250,000 acres by 2019. The company’s organic movement began back in 2000 with the acquisition of Small Planet Foods (think Larabar, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and Food Should Taste Good), followed by Liberte (who plans to transition all products to USDA Certified Organic by fall of 2016) and Immaculate Baking buyouts. Expansion grew even more in 2014 when the company bought Annie's Homegrown, making them the third largest natural and organic food manufacturer in the U.S.
The goal, says General Mill’s exective VP Jeff Harmening, is to reach $1 billion in net sales from natural and organic products by 2019. Does this mean all brands will lose their small scale mom-and-pop feel? Not exactly, says General Mills. Part of getting there means keeping brands like Annie’s looking like Annie’s always looked and ensuring that acquisitions like Larabar and Liberte stay true to the natural positioning that made them successful businesses to begin with.
How do they plan to do that? Take Muir Glen, for example, who was bought by General Mills in 2000. The products retain enough street cred to keep a spot on the shelves at Whole Foods Market — not the kind of place where the General Mills logo is commonly found.
General Mills is currently among the top 5 organic ingredient purchasers and second largest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables in North America. Another consumer win! Keep talking, folks. Big food is listening!
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