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General Mills, Inc.
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2019 Vault Rankings

At a Glance

Uppers

Top breakfast cereal maker in the United States

The company's brands can be found in almost every aisle of the supermarket

Downers

Job security may be an issue in the current economic environment

The Bottom Line

General Mills is a true industrial powerhouse, and a great place to launch a career.

About General Mills, Inc.

General Mills is high in the ranks of consumer packaged goods companies. Some of its #1 and #2 market-leading brands include Betty Crocker dessert mixes, Gold Medal flour, Pillsbury cookie dough, and Yoplait yogurt. It competes with Kellogg to be the top cereal maker with a brand arsenal that includes Kix, Chex, Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Wheaties. While most of the firm's sales come from the US, General Mills is working to extend the reach and position of its brands globally and has facilities across five major continents. General Mills also owns the Haagen-Dazs ice cream brand in the US. The acquisition of Blue Buffalo in 2018 took General Mills into the pet food category.

Operations

General Mills divides its operations into five reportable segments: North America Retail, Convenience Stores & Foodservice, Europe & Australia, Asia & Latin America, and Pet.

The majority of the firm's sales (about 60%) come from North America Retail, which markets cereals like Cheerios, packaged meals such as Hamburger Helper, the Pillsbury and Yoplait brands, snacks like Nature Valley granola bars, baking products such as Betty Crocker, and Small Planet Foods, a subsidiary that offers organic brands Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen.

Convenience Stores & Foodservice generates more than 10% of sales and delivers baking mixes and flour to bakeries and grocery store bakeries; branded cereals, snacks, backed goods, and yogurt to schools, restaurants, and hotels; and a variety of products to convenience stores and vending machines.

The two internationally focused segments, Europe & Australia and Asia & Latin America both generate roughly 10% of sales. They comprise the retail and foodservice businesses in their specific regions and offer products similar to those found in North America.

The Pet segment also accounts for around 10% of sales and offers dry and wet food and treats for dogs and cats.

General Mills also owns interest in two joint ventures: Cereal Partners Worldwide with Nestlé (which sells such breakfast cereals as Chocapic, Nesquick, Shreddies, and Uncle Toby's) and Häagen-Dazs Japan (which operates ice cream cafés in that country).

U.S. Retail accounted for about 60% of the company's net sales in fiscal 2016 (May year end) and the International segment, 28%. The remainder was accounted for by Convenience Stores & Foodservice.

By product, General Mills makes about 20% of sales from snacks, more than 15% from cereal, 15% from ready meals, and 15% from yoghurt.

Geographic Reach

General Mills sells its products in more than 100 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. The US is its largest market, accounting for three-quarters of sales.

In addition to its consolidated operations, the company has a 50% stake in two strategic joint ventures that manufacture and market food products sold in more than 130 countries worldwide.

The company operates more than 50 facilities for the production of a wide variety of food products. Of these facilities, about 25 are located in the US, four in the Greater China region, three in Canada, eight in Europe/Australia, and nine in Latin America.

Sales and Marketing

General Mills' primary customers are grocery stores, mass merchandisers, membership club stores, natural food chains, commercial and non-commercial foodservice distributors and operators, in addition to restaurants, convenience stores, and drug, dollar, discount chains, and pet stores. Wal-Mart accounts for 20% of the company's net sales and is General Mills' largest customer.

Advertising and media expenses for the behemoth food maker linger around the $600 million mark.

Financial Performance

Over the last five years General Mills' revenue declined for two years then grew for two years.

In 2019 (ended May 26) the company's sales grew 7% to $16.9 billion due to the acquisition of Blue Buffalo, a pet food brand; organic sales growth was flat. 

Net income fell 17% to $1.8 billion in fiscal 2019 due to a one-time benefit in 2018 relating to the 2017 US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

General Mills' cash on hand grew $51.0 million during fiscal 2019, ending the year at $450.0 million. The company's operations generated $2.8 billion, while its investing activities used $556.5 million and its financing used $2.2 billion. The company's main cash uses were capital expenditures, long-term debt payments, and dividends.

Strategy

Beyond acquisitions, General Mills is looking to new products for growth. Spending more than $200 million on annually on research and development, the food giant launches and improves dozens of products, optimizes process design and packaging, and conducts exploratory research in new business and technology ideas. Investments are focused on four growth areas: Häagen-Dazs ice cream, snack bars, Old El Paso Mexican food, and natural and organic food. 

The $8 billion acquisition of Blue Buffalo in 2018 introduced pet food as a separate segment. General Mills will leverage its size to double Blue Buffalo products sold through the food, drug, and mass market channel, including Big Box retailers. The acquisition also taps into phenomenon of pet food trends following human consumption. With consumers choosing natural and organic food for themselves more and more, so too are they buying similar products for their pets. 

Mergers and Acquisitions

General Mills also has an eye on the growing natural foods niche, both human and pet.

In 2018 it completed the purchase of Blue Buffalo, the nation's leading natural pet food maker, for some $8 billion. The move adds pet food to General Mills' expansive portfolio and is key in the company's portfolio reshaping initiative to move toward more natural and premium products. It will sell Blue Buffalo products through mass channels, which should help the brand grow explosively.

General Mills, Inc.

1 GENERAL MILLS BLVD
Minneapolis, MN 55426-1348
Phone: 1 (763) 764-7600

Stats

Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: GIS
Stock Exchange: , NYSE
CEO: Jeffrey L. Harmening
EVP and COO, International: Christopher D. O'Leary
Chairman: Kendall J. Powell
Employees (This Location): 1,000
Employees (All Locations): 40,000

Major Office Locations

Minneapolis, MN

Other Locations

Rogers, AR
Glendale, AZ
Scottsdale, AZ
Berkeley, CA
Carson, CA
Fontana, CA
Glendale, CA
Lodi, CA
Tulare, CA
Vernon, CA
Boulder, CO
Englewood, CO
Washington, DC
Doral, FL
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Covington, GA
Social Circle, GA
Carlisle, IA
Cedar Rapids, IA
American Falls, ID
Blackfoot, ID
Idaho Falls, ID
Newdale, ID
Belvidere, IL
Calumet City, IL
Galesburg, IL
Montgomery, IL
Fishers, IN
West Monroe, LA
Kalamazoo, MI
Reed City, MI
Chanhassen, MN
Duluth, MN
Hopkins, MN
Minneapolis, MN
Joplin, MO
Kansas City, MO
Great Falls, MT
Havre, MT
Sweetgrass, MT
Albuquerque, NM
Buffalo, NY
Cincinnati, OH
Mason, OH
Toledo, OH
Wellston, OH
Vinita, OK
Dresher, PA
Palmyra, PA
Bristol, TN
Germantown, TN
Murfreesboro, TN
Addison, TX
Austin, TX
Houston, TX
Roanoke, TX
Round Rock, TX
Sedro Woolley, WA
Milwaukee, WI
Brasilia, Brazil
Campo Grande, Brazil
Curitiba, Brazil
Pato Branco, Brazil
Anjou, Canada
Calgary, Canada
Dartmouth, Canada
Midland, Canada
Sherwood Park, Canada
Surrey, Canada
Winnipeg, Canada
Argenteuil, France
Feuchy, France
Givors, France
Le Mans, France
Mitry Mory, France
Moneteau, France
Ressons Sur Matz, France
Saint Jory, France
Vienne, France
Wissous, France
Oinofyta, Greece