Sales of the Natural & Organic segment for 2021 are expected to increase + 6.6% to $ 271 billion and is expected to exceed $ 300 billion by 2023, Exceeding total food and drink growth, according to New Hope.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA, Priscilla Zee, Business Unit Director of the Natural & Organic Portfolio at General Mills, overseeing brands such as Annie’s, Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen, noted how even more sales are high when looking at pre-pandemic levels.
“Natural and organic foods and beverages continue to outpace total food and beverage growth. If you look at the CAGR for the past two years, natural and organic food and drink increased by + 9.3% compared to total food and drink at + 7.5%. “Zee told FoodNavigator-USA.
“It’s amazing to me that 92% of households contain natural and organic products. We have seen a significant number of consumers turn to our Annie’s and Cascadian Farms brands over the past 18 months.”
“Annie’s is one of the places where we have seen explosive growth”
The influx of new consumers was most notable for Annie’s, which now covers 20 grocery categories.
“Annie’s is one of the places where we’ve seen explosive growth. With kids at home, parents who need quick and easy meals for their kids, Annie’s responds so well to that. It’s a meal that enthusiasm children and moms can also feel good, “Zee noted.
“Annie’s is one of the brands where we have the highest index with Latinx consumers. With one in four babies born being Latinx, I think this will continue to grow.”
However, to continue to increase its household penetration with new consumers, the company will be challenged to offer products of taste, convenience and affordable prices, especially as many manufacturers grapple with the inflation.
“Consumers buy both natural and organic items, and consumer items. Our challenge is how we continue to deliver taste and how can we ensure that we deliver accessibility as a whole ”, Zee said.
“I think we will definitely have to have an eye on taste, preparation and convenience. So ease is going to continue to be our focus, without a doubt.” noted Zee, who added that her Annie’s single serve micro mugs have been leading the growth of her mac and cheese business.
Zee added that the brand is converting its plastic micro cups to 100% recyclable paper and has already started offering the most sustainable packaging to some retailers.
“We hear from consumers that they want more products that ensure sustainability.”
“I have seen us evolve faster and innovate faster than ever”
Another part of his strategy to grow his audience of natural and organic customers is to stay focused on changing consumer needs, according to Zee, who has been with General Mills for 15 years.
“Over the years that I’ve been with General Mills, I’ve seen us grow faster and innovate faster than ever before,”she says.
This approach has led to the successful innovation of new products such as its Autumn’s Gold line of grain-free granola launched in partnership with Costco.
“Many consumers dropped out of the granola and cereal category because they didn’t want to eat cereal. Consumers have told us that there are plenty of grain-free granolas on the market, but that same crunch that they lack from the granola they used to eat, “Zee said.
Taking advantage of this consumer insight, General Mills launched Autumn’s Gold Granola and Cereal Free Bars made with a variety of nuts to provide the crunch consumers lacked.
The product has since become one of Costco’s best-selling products, according to Zee, who said agile product innovation will continue to be at the center of the future of General Mills’ natural and organic business.
“Where I see the most opportunity for natural and organic is making sure we are reaching all types of consumers and not just a subset of consumers. “she says.