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Mar 21, 2017 • By

Snack bars with global appeal

Today we announced our financial results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2017. The full financial results are detailed in our press release.

One of the highlights has been the incredible growth of LÄRABAR, a better-for-you snack business whose retail sales have grown 40 percent in Nielsen measured outlets.

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Another highlight is EPIC Provisions, which joined General Mills just last year. Retail sales have more than doubled in the past year through increased distribution.

LÄRABAR and EPIC both appeal to people seeking “better for you” snacks in a convenient package.

Today’s booming phenomenon of better-for-you snack bars started more than 40 years ago, when we first marketed the Nature Valley crunchy granola bar. In fact, General Mills was the first major food company to sell granola bars.

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The revolutionary Nature Valley bar of 1975 made with rolled oats and honey – no additives or preservatives — helped fuel the on-the-go snack trend. Sitting down for three meals a day was in the past. Snacking became the norm in a busy world. Nature Valley responded by creating more bar options in many flavors: chewy, nut clusters, yogurt-coated and protein-packed.

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Advertising campaigns in the 1970s boasted granola as a wholesome eating alternative with slogans like, “snack goes granola.” One 1974 ad read, “Don’t let a busy world beat you out of a good breakfast”… long before the world was the blur that it is today.

Nature Valley is still going strong 42 years later, enjoying increasing sales across U.S., Europe, Canada and Latin America in fiscal 2016. And that helped drive double-digit retail sales growth for our wholesome snacks in Europe over the past year.

The latest products from Nature Valley include Nut Butter Biscuit Sandwiches, which have become best-sellers in the snack-bar category over the past 12 months. And Nature Valley Granola Cups, which appeal to people looking for a more decadent whole-grain snack.

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Nature Valley remains the anchor brand in the snack bar category and continues to be a leading granola bar in the U.S.  But now the brand has global appeal, as does the concept of snack bars. Snack bars across the General Mills portfolio are becoming a key driver of our overall retail sales in North America, Europe and Australia.

Today snack bars make up a $1.7 billion global business for General Mills, and we’ve seen a three percent compound annual growth rate over the last two years.

Matt Salter, a marketing director for snacks in Europe and Australia, says that what people want out of their snack-bars is often similar around the globe, such as interest in protein and weight management.

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And, of course, people still want great taste, a key reason Fiber One has seen good growth in Europe since it launched there last year.

You can hear from Matt in this audio clip.

When asked about the next big trend abroad, Matt believes in the potential of protein and nut butters. This should come as no surprise to anyone living in the U.S., but in Europe, attitudes toward peanut butter have traditionally been different from in the U.S. Peanut butter has never been part of the lunch sandwich or cookie repertoire in France, for example.

A replay of today’s webcast to the financial community is available here.

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