General Mills Opens Innovation Center in China
General Mills inaugurated the company's first innovation, technology and quality center in China on July 15th, signaling a commitment to drive greater innovation and investment in one of the company's largest growth markets.
The US$15-million facility, spanning 75,000 sq. ft. (6,970 sq. m.), is the first major technical center outside of the General Mills worldwide headquarters in Minneapolis. The state-of-the-art complex will focus on developing high-quality products for Chinese consumers including snacks, convenient meals, yogurt and super-premium ice cream. Inside it will house centers for product research and development, food safety, food nutrition research, and food sensory evaluation.
"Our new technical center in Shanghai provides General Mills a tremendous opportunity to accelerate innovation in the Greater China region and better support this rapidly expanding business," said Ken Powell, Chairman and CEO. "By bringing our world-class capabilities to the region, we will increase our agility to act on emerging consumer trends, enable bigger and better innovation pipelines, and establish a food safety center of excellence for our business."
General Mills also operates technical centers in Minneapolis, France, India and Brazil. In addition, the company's Cereal Partners Worldwide joint venture with Nestle has a research center in Switzerland.
China is one of the company's largest growth markets with brands such as Wanchai Ferry dim sum, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Bugles and Trix snacks. Constant-current net sales for China have grown at a 15 percent compound rate over the past four years, reaching over $700 million in 2014. General Mills expects double-digit net sales growth from Greater China this fiscal year. Fully one-third of General Mills sales are now outside the US, where it is focused on the middle class consumer in emerging markets to drive faster topline growth. The emerging global middle class is expected to reach 50 percent of the world's population by 2030. Across China, Indonesia, India and Brazil, the sheer number of new middle class households is projected to grow by almost 200 million people between 2010 and 2020.
"These consumers are increasingly pressed for time," said Chris O'Leary, executive vice president and chief operating officer, International. "As a result, this emerging middle class is looking for convenient food solutions, with strong health credentials and great taste. All of which points to a huge growth opportunity for our business going forward."