In reporting its results Thursday, the nation's No. 2 breakfast cereal maker credited a 16% increase in fourth-quarter marketing and advertising with helping to sustain its brands' growth.
In the U.S. retail segment, which grew 4% to nearly $8.5 billion, sales for the snacks division increased 10% and passed the $1 billion mark for the first time. They were led by grain snacks such as Nature Valley granola bars and new Fiber One bars. Yoplait, up 6% in sales, was led by its light varieties, Go-gurt and Yoplait Kids.
Net sales for the meals division grew 5%, reflecting strong growth of Progresso ready-to-serve soups and Hamburger Helper mixes. Net sales for Pillsbury USA and the baking products division each grew 3%.
Big G cereals posted a 2% sales increase, with strong performance from the market-leading Cheerios franchise and new cereals introduced during the year.