General Mills

General Mills
General Mills, Inc.
Type Public
Traded as NYSEGIS
Industry Food processing
Founded Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. (1866 (1866))
Founder(s) Cadwallader C. Washburn
Headquarters One General Mills Boulevard
Golden Valley, Minnesota, U.S.
Area served Nationwide
Key people Kendall J. Powell
(Chairman and CEO)
Products Baking mixes, Breakfast cereals, yogurt, refrigerated dough, soup, pizza, snack foods, ice cream, soy products, vegetables, flour, and other food products...
Revenue increase US$14.797 billion (FY 2010)[1]
Operating income increase US$2.606 billion (FY 2010)[1]
Net income increase US$1.530 billion (FY 2010)[1]
Total assets decrease US$17.679 billion (FY 2010)[1]
Total equity increase US$5.648 billion (FY 2010)[1]
Employees 33,000 (FY 2010)[1]

General Mills, Inc. (NYSEGIS) is an American Fortune 500 corporation, primarily concerned with food products, which is headquartered in Golden Valley, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. The company markets many well-known brands, such as Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totinos, Jeno's, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Häagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Wanchai Ferry. Their brand portfolio includes more than 100 leading U.S. brands and numerous category leaders around the world.[2]



Advertisement, late 1880s

The company can trace its history to the Minneapolis Milling Company, founded in 1856 by Illinois Congressman Robert Smith, which leased power rights to mills operating along Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River. Cadwallader C. Washburn acquired the company shortly after its founding and hired his brother, William D. Washburn to assist in the company's development. In 1866, the Washburns got into the business themselves, building the Washburn "B" Mill at the falls. At the time, the building was considered to be so large and output so vast that it could not possibly sustain itself. However, the company succeeded, and in 1874 he built the even bigger Washburn "A" Mill.

In 1877, the mill entered a partnership with John Crosby to form the Washburn-Crosby Company. In that same year, Washburn sent William Hood Dunwoody to England to open the market for spring wheat.[3] Dunwoody was successful and became a silent partner. Dunwoody would become immensely wealthy and went on to endow a Minneapolis hospital, Dunwoody Institute (now Dunwoody College of Technology), and a charitable home in Pennsylvania, Dunwoody Village.

In 1878, the "A" mill exploded. There was a flour dust explosion that resulted in the deaths of 17 workers and also destroyed five nearby buildings. Construction of a new mill began immediately. Not only was the new mill safer but it also was able to produce a higher quality flour. The old grinding stones were replaced with automatic steel rollers. These new rollers were the first used throughout the world. These new rollers also were capable of producing more nutritious flour. Winter Wheat Flour was replaced by this new flour.

In 1924, the company stepped in to take over a failing Twin Cities radio station, WLAG, renaming it WCCO (from Washburn-Crosby Company). General Mills itself was created in 1928 when Washburn-Crosby President James Ford Bell directed his company to merge with 26 other mills.

Postcard image of the Gold Medal Flour factory in Minneapolis around 1900

Beginning in 1929, General Mills products contained box top coupons, known as Betty Crocker coupons, with varying point values, which were redeemable for discounts on a variety of housewares products featured in the widely distributed Betty Crocker catalog. The coupons and the catalog were discontinued by the company in 2006. A similar program, Box Tops for Education, in which coupon icons clipped off various General Mills products can be redeemed by schools for cash, started in 1996 and is still active.

General Mills became the sponsor of the popular radio show The Lone Ranger in 1941. The show was then brought to television, and, after 20 years, their long-term sponsorship came to an end in 1961.

When NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter launched into space on Mercury capsule Aurora 7 in 1962, he was carrying with him the first solid space food—small food cubes developed by Pillsbury’s research and development department. Taking Pillsbury scientists more than a year to develop, space food cubes were followed by other space-friendly foods, such as non-crumbly cake, relish that could be served in slices, and meat that needed no refrigeration.

Former site of General Mills today on the Mississippi River at Minneapolis

The first venture General Mills took into the toy industry was in 1965. The company bought Rainbow Crafts, which was the manufacturer of Play-Doh. General Mills' purchase of the company was substantial because it brought production costs down and tripled the revenue.

Beginning in 1959, General Mills sponsored the famous Rocky and His Friends television show, which later prompted The Bullwinkle Show in 1961. Until 1968, Rocky and Bullwinkle were featured in a variety of advertisements for General Mills.

General Mills came out with their "Monster Cereals" in the 1970s. Two of the cereals, Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy, were discontinued from the "Monster Cereal" line in the 1980s.[citation needed]

In 1970, General Mills acquired a five-unit restaurant company called Red Lobster and expanded it nationwide. Soon, a division of General Mills titled General Mills Restaurants developed to take charge of the Red Lobster chain. In 1982, General Mills Restaurants founded a new Italian-themed restaurant chain called Olive Garden. Another themed restaurant, China Coast, was added before the entire group was spun off to General Mills shareholders in 1995 as Darden Restaurants.

During the same decade, General Mills ventured further, starting the General Mills Specialty Retail Group. They acquired two clothing and apparel companies, Talbots and Eddie Bauer. The acquisition was short-lived. Talbots was purchased by a Japanese company, then known as JUSCO, and the Spiegel company purchased Bauer. Spiegel later declared bankruptcy, yet Bauer still remains, albeit in a smaller presence in the United States today.

Washburn "A" Mill, the producer of Gold Medal Flour, now the Minnesota Historical Society Mill City Museum

From 1976 to 1985, General Mills went to court as the parent company of Parker Brothers, which held the rights on the brand name and gaming idea of the board game Monopoly, claiming that the so called Anti-Monopoly game of an economics professor infringed their trademark. The dispute extended up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against them, saying that while they have exclusive rights to the game Monopoly, they can not prevent others from using the word "monopoly" in the name of a game. During the 1980s, General Mills sold Parker Brothers to Kenner.

In 2001, the company purchased Pillsbury, although it was officially described as a "merger."

Since 2004, General Mills has been producing more products targeted to the growing ranks of health-conscious consumers. The company has chosen to switch its entire breakfast cereal line to whole grain. According to nutritionists, whole grains are a much healthier choice when choosing grain products. The company also started manufacturing their kid-targeted cereals with less sugar.[4][5] General Mills has reduced the level of sugar to all cereals advertised to children to 11 grams.[6]

General Mills' recent marketing to children included the advergame Millsberry, a virtual city that included games featuring General Mills products. The site launched in August 2004 and ran through December 2010. It was finally retired on December 31, 2010.

As of December 31, 2010, General Mills was ranked #166 in the Fortune 500 and was the third-largest food company in the United States.[7]

Engineering milestones

General Mills' corporate campus in Golden Valley.
  • 1930s: General Mills engineer, Thomas R. James, creates the puffing gun, which inflates or distorts cereal pieces into puffed up shapes. This new technology was used in 1937 to create Kix cereal and in 1941 to create Cheerioats (known today as Cheerios).
  • 1939: General Mills engineer Helmer Anderson creates the Anderson sealer. This new device allowed for bags of flour to be sealed with glue instead of just being tied with a string.
  • 1956, General Mills creates the tear-strip for easily opening packages
  • 1962: NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter carries solid space food, developed by Pillsbury, aboard Aurora 7. Taking Pillsbury scientists more than a year to develop, the space food cubes were followed by other space-friendly foods, such as non-crumbly cake, relish that could be served in slices, and meat that needed no refrigeration.

Corporate governance

As of April 2010, General Mills senior leadership team include:[8]

  • Kendall J. Powell: Chief Executive Officer; Chairman of the Board
  • Y. Marc Belton: Executive Vice President, Worldwide Health, Brand and New Business Development
  • John Church: Senior Vice President, Supply Chain
  • Michael L. Davis: Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources
  • Peter C. Erickson: Senior Vice President, Innovation, Technology and Quality
  • Ian R. Friendly: Executive Vice President; Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Retail
  • Donal L. Mulligan: Executive Vice President; Chief Financial Officer
  • Christopher D. O’Leary: Executive Vice President; Chief Operating Officer, International
  • Roderick A. Palmore: Executive Vice President; General Counsel, Chief Compliance and Risk Management Officer
  • Jeffrey J. Rotsch: Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Channel Development
  • Christina L. Shea: Senior Vice President, External Relations; President, General Mills Community Action and Foundation

General Mills brands

Breakfast cereals include Basic 4, Boo Berry, Buc Wheats, Cheerios and its variants, Chex and its variants, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Cookie Crisp, Count Chocula, Crazy Cow, Fiber One, Franken Berry, French Toast Crunch, General Mills Kaboom, Gold Flakes, Golden Grahams, Chocolate Golden Grahams, Hidden Treasures, Honey Nut Clusters, Jurassic Park Crunch, Kix, Lucky Charms, Oatmeal Crisp, Raisin Nut Bran, Reese's Puffs, Total, Trix, and Wheaties.

Baking goods include Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, Jus-Rol, Knack & Back, La Salteña, Pillsbury, V. Pearl, and Wanchai Ferry. General Mills also produces fruit snacks like Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Fruit Shapes.

The company's grain snacks include Bugles, Cascadian Farms, Chex Mix, Gardetto's, Nature Valley, and Fiber One bars. It also produces Häagen-Dazs ice cream outside of the US. Its meal products include Betty Crocker, Diablitos Underwood, Green Giant, Hamburger Helper, Old El Paso, and Wanchai Ferry. It also produces organic foods like Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen. Other brands include Frescarini, Latina, Totinos, Jeno's, Progresso, Columbo, and Yoplait (51%).

Company locations

As of May 25, 2008, 79 facilities for the production of a wide variety of food products were being operated.[9] Of these facilities, 49 are located in the United States, 12 in the Asia/Pacific region (8 of which are leased), 5 in Canada (2 of which are leased), 7 in Europe (3 of which are leased), 5 in Latin America and Mexico, and 1 in South Africa. Principal production facilities are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Belvidere, Illinois; Buffalo, New York; Carlisle, Iowa; Carson, California; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Covington, Georgia; Golden Valley, Minnesota; Great Falls, Montana; Hannibal, Missouri; Irapuato, Mexico; Kansas City, Missouri; Lodi, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; New Albany, Indiana; Reed City, Michigan; Vineland, New Jersey; Wellston, Ohio; and a branch in West Chicago, Illinois. International bakeries and food service facilities include Arras, France; Berwick, United Kingdom; Cagua, Venezuela; Guangzhou, China; Rooty Hill, Australia; and San Adrian, Spain. General Mills also has an IT division at Mumbai, India. Their prominent brand in India is Pillsbury although they have just opened an ice cream parlour of Häagen Dazs Ice creams in the capital city of Delhi.

See also

Factory 1b.svg Companies portal
  • DSV Alvin, deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy. Constructed by General Mills.
  • Washburn "A" Mill, a former General Mills production facility that now houses the Mill City Museum.
  • Betty Crocker Kitchens
  • List of food companies


External links

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