General Mills' Launches Stress Protein, Bold Snacks

General Mills' just-unveiled roster of more than 150 new products launching this summer, for its fiscal 2015, reflects the current protein craze -- along with demand for bold flavors in snacks and entrees, gluten-free foods of all kinds, whole grains and indulgent offerings.

New products drove nearly 5% of the company's net U.S. retail sales this past fiscal year, and 11 of those made IRI's New Product Pacesetters ranking of the top 100 top-selling launches (including Yoplait Greek 100, Fiber One Protein Bars, Honey Nut Cheerios Medley Crunch and Green Giant Steamers).  

Highlights of this year's launches:

*Protein:  With more than half of consumers saying that they're looking to add protein to their diets, General Mills is expanding the Cheerios franchise with Cheerios Protein, which includes granola clusters and, with milk, delivers 11 grams of protein per serving. 

The new Cascadian Farm Protein Granola, offering 10 grams of protein per serving, is described as the first "mainstream organic granola" made from pea protein. 

In addition, the company will continue to expand the high-protein Yoplait Greek yogurt line with seven new flavors, including lemon meringue, key lime, honey, piña colada and caffe mocha.

*Bold, globally inspired flavors:  Progresso is pushing outside the soup category with a line of hearty chili in two varieties, Southwest Style Chicken Chili with Beans and Smokehouse Pork and Beef Chili with Beans. 

The Old El Paso brand, clearly taking a cue from the hugely popular Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos, is introducing a Bold Nacho Cheese Taco kit. 

On the snacks front, Chex Mix is launching Xtreme flavors, including Habanero Lime and Sweet & Spicy Sriracha.

*Gluten-free foods:  To woo the estimated 30% of consumers trying to reduce gluten consumption, Chex is jumping into the hot cereal category with gluten-free oatmeal in three varieties (original, maple brown sugar and apple cinnamon), and Betty Crocker is bowing a gluten-free pizza crust. 

Lärabar is launching the first nationally distributed grain-free granola, dubbed Renola. The cereal, featuring ingredients such as nuts, fruits and seeds, comes in cinnamon nut, cocoa coconut and berry flavors.

Food Should Taste Good Brown Rice Crackers are made with gluten-free grains like sesame and flax seeds, quinoa and amaranth, and come in flavors including sea salt, roasted red pepper, tomato and basil.

*Whole-grain foods:  Some 81% of consumers say they are trying to consume more whole grains. General Mills' responses include a new boxed line dubbed Suddenly Salad, offering blends of whole and ancient grains (brown rice, wild rice, quinoa) paired with popular salad dressings (Tuscan, Southwest, Mediterranean).

Nature Valley is launching Fruteria, a line of 100-calorie granola bars combining real fruit pieces and chewy oats developed to appeal to Hispanic consumers.

Green Giant Steamers is bowing new varieties combining vegetables and whole grains, including parmesan asiago, rosemary, and teriyaki.

*Indulgent offerings:  These include Fiber One Streusel, Betty Crocker Hershey's Premium Dessert Mixes (such as Hershey's S'Mores), and Pillsbury Melts (ready-to-bake filled cookies topped with chocolate drizzle).

In China and Europe, Häagen-Dazs is introducing Triple Sensations – combinations of ice cream, crunchy toppings and sauce in flavors like Praline Caramel Seduction and Chocolate Caramel Passion.

Tags: food
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