USA – General Mills has unveiled a host of new products this month addressing a range of modern snacking and consumer trends around the world. 

From Annie’s organic popcorn to Yoplait Custard to Nature Valley Granola Cups to great new flavors of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, General Mills has debuted a line up of new products that are aligned with growing consumer interests.

The company says that there has been a dramatic rise in snacking around the globe as consumers adapt their eating habits to increasingly busy lifestyles, with wholesome snacks being the fastest-growing segment surpassing the overall food and beverage market, according to 2016 research from Packaged Facts.  

“Snacking presents a tremendous growth opportunity for General Mills,” said Ken Powell, General Mills chairman and chief executive officer.

“Our products are in 97 percent of U.S. consumer households and about one-third of our global sales are international.  This gives us a great ability to listen and deliver what consumers want. 

And while preferences are changing faster than ever, what hasn’t changed is the desire for food that tastes great, is convenient, and affordable. Our scale allows us to easily transfer great ideas into great products around the world,” he continued

According to Jeanine Bassett, vice president of Global Consumer Insights at General Mills, one of the biggest shifts in consumer eating habits has been in the area of weight management.

“Controlling weight used to be about counting calories, now it’s about calories that count,” said Bassett. “Today it’s more about satiety, which is why you see increased interest in protein.”

The latest additions to the General Mills portfolio address this demand for harder working calories include Yoplait Greek 100 yogurt with at least 14 grams of protein per serving, a super-sized version of Nature Valley Sweet & Salty bars, and Fiber One layered chewy bars.

Consumers are continuing to seek products made with simple, recognizable ingredients and free from things they are looking to avoid, like gluten or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, notes the company.

For many consumers, organic is an increasingly appealing choice. Consumers also want more information about where ingredients were grown.

The company has responded to this new consumer focus by launching new products that reinforce this message.

“Products like Liberté yogurt provide transparency around the ingredients they use. For example, they aren’t just using vanilla beans, but vanilla beans from Indonesia,” said Bassett.

Among the products addressing simplicity and “free-from” ingredients include LÄRABAR Fruits + Greens bars, and Nature Valley granola cups with no artificial flavors, colors or corn syrup, and newly renovated Progresso soup, now made with only antibiotic and hormone free chicken.

The company says that while interest in simple, wholesome snacks are on the rise, consumers are still making room for indulgent treats.

“Oftentimes consumers talk about eating healthy as a presentation of their best selves and their aspirations, but in reality, they simply want something that tastes good,” said Bassett.

It has also launched new exotic flavors of ice cream and yogurt, such as Häagen-Dazs green tea almond stick bars.