General Mills ditches artificial colors and flavors — will it boost business?
From GMOs to artificial additives, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with what’s in their food. General Mills is one business that is acutely aware of this trend. For years now, the food processing giant has been inching its way closer to a more health conscious consumer base through the acquisition of organic and sustainable brands like Cascadian Farm and Annie’s Homegrown and the support of its suppliers in organic agriculture.
Now it’s going even further. Today General Mills announced that it will be removing artificial colors and flavors from all of its traditional cereal brands—starting with major brands Trix and Reese’s Puffs.
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According to General Mills, 60 percent of its cereals—Cinnamon Toast Crunch and original Cheerios, to name a few—are already produced without artificial colors and flavors. This move will extend that policy to the rest of the company’s cereal lineup, swapping out commonly used artificial ingredients for natural alternatives like fruit and vegetable uses to approximate Trix’s vivid colors.
“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, in a press release announcing the company’s decision. “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 hopes to remove at least 90 percent of all artificial flavors and colors from its cereal brands by the end of 2016. The intention is to boost consumer trust with General Mills and will help in building a reputation for General Mills as a more natural and sustainable choice.
There are always risks with a decision like this. On one hand, other brands like Panera Bread and Taco Bell that have launched similar campaigns have been met with criticism over whether or not phasing out artificial additives goes far enough to satisfy consumer demands. On the other hand, General Mills must also be careful to ensure that its products don’t lose their visual appeal or the flavors they’re known for—for iconic brands like Trix that have built up decades of brand loyalty, even small changes can be dangerous for sales.
But General Mills understands this as well, and is attempting to mitigate these issues by taking it slow in order to make sure that it gets every change exactly right.
“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,” noted Kate Gallager, General Mills cereal developer, in the press release. “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.”
If General Mills is able to pull off its ingredient changes while maintaining the integrity and nostalgia factor of each brand, this could ultimately go a long way toward building good will with a broader base of consumers for years to come.
The largest & most technologically advanced vertical farm
AeroFarms, a leader in indoor vertical farming, has announced its second commercial indoor vertical farm, in Virginia, USA.
The 136,000 square foot, next-generation Model 5 farm will be the largest and most technologically advanced aeroponic indoor vertical farm in the world.
Strategically located in close proximity to more than 1,000 food retailers in the region, the farm will provide access to approximately 50 million people located within a day’s drive.
The new farm will advance AeroFarms’ leadership in plant science and technology and expand its leafy greens business to the Mid-Atlantic region with brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce partners, building upon existing relationships that include Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh. It is expected to be ready in 2022.
Farming success in Virgina, USA
“Innovation and new technologies have always been the driving forces behind the success of Virginia’s largest private sector industry, agriculture”, said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By choosing to establish their largest production facility to date here in the Commonwealth, AeroFarms is ensuring that Virginia is a leader in indoor vertical farming."
The technology of vertical farms
“The science, technology and innovation that underpin our platform allows us to drive superior unit economics and scale up our business to deliver on our mission of growing the best plants possible for the betterment of humanity”, said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AeroFarms. “Our customers love our leafy greens, which consistently win on quality, flavor, taste and texture. We are excited to break ground on our new farm, expand our retail presence in the region and bring our exceptional, great tasting products to more customers.”
The farm will feature AeroFarms’ proprietary and cutting-edge agSTACK technology, creating a fully connected and digitally controlled farm that integrates hardware, automation, intelligent controls and sensors, machine learning, machine vision, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and manufacturing execution systems to create a powerful data loop.
By collecting and analyzing data through its 26 crop turns per year, AeroFarms’ team of engineers, plant scientists, and programmers gather insights about plants, and apply these learnings for the continuous improvement of its farms, which yield annual productivity up to 390 times greater than traditional field farming, while using up to 95% less water and zero pesticides.
“Our new farm will deepen our established retailer partnerships even further and make our sustainably grown, pesticide-free and always fresh leafy greens available throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, while also creating high-quality jobs in the area. This new facility represents an inflection point in our growth trajectory as we scale our technology and expand our retail distribution footprint and customer reach”, concluded Rosenberg.