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  • Report: #822188

Complaint Review: General Mills

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  • Submitted: Fri, January 13, 2012
  • Updated: Mon, January 16, 2012

  • Reported By: Healthy Consumer — Kenton Ohio United States of America
General Mills
1 General Mills Blvd. Minneapolis, Minnesota United States of America

General Mills, Wealthy company retains market price of Multi Grain Cheerios, but drastically and surreptitiously reduces vitamins and minerals in formula! Minneapolis, Minnesota

*Consumer Comment: I'll also add

*Consumer Comment: I actually agree with the OP on this one..

*Author of original report: Sharing data is justifiable

*Consumer Comment: It comes down to this "healthy consumer"....

*Consumer Comment: It comes down to this "healthy consumer"....

*Consumer Comment: Even here?

*Author of original report: Consumer preference

*Consumer Comment: Cost

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General Mills is the manufacturer of Multi Grain Cheerios, and for years the product has boasted not only whole grains but, like the companys Total cereal line, a wide range of 100% of vitamins and minerals.

 

The company has now *reformulated* Multi Grain Cheerios, and while still selling the product for a relatively high cost and continuing to promote the whole grains issuewhich was also a part of the previous formulas advertisingit completely fails to point out that out of the sixteen vitamins and minerals of the previous formula, the new version of the cereal has reduced the percentage of eleven vitamins and minerals and completely eliminated two others:

 

Previous formula                                  Reformulated

1. Vitamin A 10%                              Vitamin A 10%

2. Vitamin C 25%                              Vitamin C 10% - reduced

3. Calcium 10%                                 Calcium 10%

4. Iron 100%                                      Iron 45% - reduced

5. Vitamin D 10%                              Vitamin D 10%

6. Vitamin E 35%                              Vitamin E deleted

7. Thiamin 100%                               Thiamin 25% - reduced

8. Riboflavin 100%                            Riboflavin 25% - reduced

9. Niacin 100%                                  Niacin 25% - reduced

10. Vitamin B6 100%                       Vitamin B6 25% - reduced        

11. Folic Acid 100%                          Folic Acid 50% - reduced

12. Vitamin B12 100%                     Vitamin B12 25% - reduced

13. Pantothenic Acid 100%            Pantothenic Acid - deleted

14. Phosphorus 8%                          Phosphorus 8%

15. Magnesium 4%                          Magnesium 4%

16. Zinc 100%                                    Zinc 25% - reduced

                               

 

Nothing else in the cereal has changed; the list of ingredients in the 100% formula vs. the lower vitamin ratio is identical, but anything that was more than 10% has been reduced or eliminated. When the company was contacted regarding this issue the following response was provided:

 

Thank you for contacting us concerning Multi Grain Cheerios cereal. We appreciate the opportunity to address this matter.

Multi Grain Cheerios vitamin levels have been reformulated. The vitamin and mineral profile of Multi Grain Cheerios is now similar to that of Yellow Box Cheerios.  Multi Grain Cheerios now delivers an excellent source of 8 vitamins and minerals for our all-family consumer base.  Multi Grain Cheerios continues to deliver 20 grams of whole grain and a good source of fiber in each serving.  Multi Cheerios still has the same delicious taste with a lightly sweetened blend of five whole grains: oats, corn, rice, wheat and barley.

 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please let us know.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jeremy Gold
Consumer Services

 
As can be seen, the response given provides absolutely no answer as to why the cereals vitamin and mineral profile had been reduced, or even acknowledges that such has occurred! "Multi Grain Cheerios now delivers an excellent source of 8 vitamins and minerals for our all-family consumer base." That sentence alone indicates that General Mills considers 25% to be an excellent source, but 100% is not?!

A follow-up mail has been sent to General Mills, asking for clarification as to exactly why the company made such a drastic reduction in the formula, but as of today a reply has not been received.

Even if a consumer does not make a habit of comparing details on products lists of Nutrition Facts, such a cutback by a company does not always guarantee that the price of the product will be similarly reduced. General Mills is a massive, prosperous company and there is no logical reason to diminish the health factor of a product that had already been a top-seller.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/13/2012 10:22 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/General-Mills/Minneapolis-Minnesota-55426/General-Mills-Wealthy-company-retains-market-price-of-Multi-Grain-Cheerios-but-drastical-822188. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
2Author 6Consumer 0Employee/Owner
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#1 Consumer Comment

I'll also add

AUTHOR: Ashley - (U.S.A.)

You can't compare cheerios and total when it comes to cost. Why? They are different companies purchasing different raw materials. Unless you can prove that cheerios and total are both buying the exact same raw materials for the exact same cost, your arguement is invalid. Clearly cheerios and total have different ingredients and different raw materials that come from different sources. That would be like comparing a mcdonald's chicken sandwich to a wendy's cheeseburger and complaining about cost differences. Now if total was a cheerio's knockoff with similar ingridents you might have something. It would be fair to compare always save cheerios or malt-o-meal brand to them.

As for the CEO pay, that is a completely different issue. I will make one comment though, these companies are going to do what it takes to make sure they maintain a certain profit margin. If that means smaller boxes, higher prices, or reduced vitamins to maintain that profit level then they will do it. They won't attack CEO profits to maintain that profit though. Why? Because the CEO runs the company. They aren't going to take a pay cut. So yes, the consumer is getting ripped off, but not quite in the way you are thinking.
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#2 Consumer Comment

I actually agree with the OP on this one..

AUTHOR: Steve - (USA)

First of all, I am a *total* free market advocate. But a free market depends on correct dissemination of information, and for your average consumer, the little vitamin list on the side of the box does not cut it, especially when the vitamin content is their main selling point. 

Of course they need to offer less per dollar since their costs have gone up, and they would be totally justified in doing so even if they hadn't, and demand had simply gone up; economics 101 (for some reason people have a bigger problem with the latter). But they really should have followed one of the following options:

 1) Raised their prices without changing the product
 2) Reduced the amount of cereal in each box (a bit easier to detect than reduced vitamin content)
 3) Put out a "new" cereal with a different name (of course this would be stupid on their part, as the current name has 'goodwill' value they would be sacrificing).

Not saying they do not have a legal right to do what they did, but this was sneaky and lame. 
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#3 Author of original report

Sharing data is justifiable

AUTHOR: Healthy Consumer - (United States of America)

Yes, General Mills has the right to manufacture the product as it chooses to, but the fact that it is using a healthy outlook as a selling pointwhen the reduction of the vitamin/mineral ratio obviously decreases the health factor of the cerealis misleading to consumers who have long been accustomed to the product being formulated with a full ratio of vitamins/minerals and have no reason to expect it to change. Consumers are the entire reason for the existence of companies such as General Mills, and becoming aware of the penchants of those who purchase their products is how companies remain in business.

Costs of materials may have skyrocketed, but as the Chairman of the Board and CEO of General MillsKendall J. Powellhad a basic compensation of $12,269,000 in the fiscal year 2011, the company is certainly not approaching economic failure.

And yes, had I been given the choice to either pay more to cover the increased manufacturing costs, or have the vitamin/mineral percentages of the food altered, my wallet would have been wide open. But consumers were not consulted; the company simply took it for granted that money is more important to the general public than physical well-being. Hence, my report here and contact with General Mills.

I certainly never claimed to be self-important, nor does my report indicate such in any way. I am simply a consumer dissatisfied with an unannounced alteration in a familiar product, and am sharing the details so that fellow consumers who also purchase the product and may not have noticed such a change will be informed. For those who favor criticizing the reporting of such a fact, as well as personally disparaging me, I pity your unexciting lives and truly hope your energies will be put to more practical endeavors in the future. 

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#4 Consumer Comment

It comes down to this "healthy consumer"....

AUTHOR: Ken - (USA)

If YOU don't like the new formulation...DON'T BUY IT!! OR continue to buy it a and pick up a bottle of 250 multi-vitamins for a few bucks and you'll still be ahead....consumers are losing it.

Robert said it well, YOU aren't ENTITLED to tell them how they SHOULD re-formulate their cereals, according to self-important YOU.

Time now for you to get back in your trash bag tent...the occupy movement has missed you.
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#5 Consumer Comment

It comes down to this "healthy consumer"....

AUTHOR: Ken - (USA)

If YOU don't like the new formulation...DON'T BUY IT!! OR continue to buy it a and pick up a bottle of 250 multi-vitamins for a few bucks and you'll still be ahead....consumers are losing it.

Robert said it well, YOU aren't ENTITLED to tell them how they SHOULD re-formulate their cereals, according to self-important YOU.

Time now for you to get back in your trash bag tent...the occupy movement has missed you.
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#6 Consumer Comment

Even here?

AUTHOR: Robert - (U.S.A.)

and consumers are entitled to products that they prefer
- So now the "Entitlement Mentality" has crossed over to the Breakfast cereal realm.  I guess it was just a matter of time.

Unfortunately it was that "entitlement mentality" that caused you to miss the entire point.  They have a right to manufacture the cereal with as many or as little vitamins as they want, and as long as they are truthful in the labeling there is nothing wrong with that.  If they decide to reduce the vitamins rather than increase the price that is their choice.  I bet if they reduced the amount of cereal in the box but kept the price the same you would be here complaining that you are getting less for the same price.

Now, of course you as a consumer have the final say.  If you don't like it then don't buy them, but you are NOT entitled to anything.  If people agree and their sales suffer they will have the choice to maintain what they are doing(and suffer in sales), or get what you want and put the vitamins back, but then either increase the cost or reduce the quantity in each box for the same price.

The fact that General Mills has continued to produce Multi Grain Cheerios with the higher ratio of vitamins and minerals for many years shows that the public prefers the healthier formula.
- It does?  If this is what it shows why would they make the Multi Grain Cheerios closer to "yellow box" Cheerios?  Wouldn't they have gone the other way? 

Perhaps you should hire out your market research firm to show them what they are missing.
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#7 Author of original report

Consumer preference

AUTHOR: Healthy Consumer - (United States of America)

To respond to your comment: regardless where you work, Miss, you too, are a consumer, and consumers are entitled to products that they prefer. The fact that General Mills has continued to produce Multi Grain Cheerios with the higher ratio of vitamins and minerals for many years shows that the public prefers the healthier formula.

If production costs have risen to such overwhelming levels, why wasnt the ratio in Total brand cereals also minimized? As can be seen on the box of any flavor of Total, the 100% nutrition is a main selling point for the company http://www.totalcereal.com/   http://www.generalmills.com/Brands/Cereals/Total.aspx, and until recently it was also used to promote Multi Grain Cheerios. Despite the cost of materials, the fact is that due to sales GMs profits are increased with a higher fortification percentage. It stands to reason that they would continue to do so with any productespecially one that is already formulated in that manner.

The changed data can easily be seen in the Nutrition Facts list on the side of the box, but relatively few make a point of examining such information every time they shop, especially in a product that was for so long promoted as having 100% nutrition. That the company specifically did not make the ratio decrease obvious to consumers is an indication that had they done so reduced sales would be a concern. While they are now pushing the whole grains aspect (which remains unchanged), a consumer will certainly not be unambiguously informed of the changes:

Multi Grain Cheerios is made with whole grains but without 100% nutrition

Which is the entire reason for my report; to be sure that fellow shoppers are aware of just what changes General Mills has made in this case. Surely that is understandable.













































































































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#8 Consumer Comment

Cost

AUTHOR: Ashley - (U.S.A.)

Did you ever stop for a minute and think that the cost of manufacturing the cheerios have gone up? They likely reduced the vitamins in the cereal versus raising the price of the cereal. I'm sure if they raised the price a 1$ a box to cover the increased manufacturing costs you would be on here screaming about them ripping you off. I work in the food manufacturing industry, and I can tell you that in the last few years our costs on raw materials have skyrocketted. We've been forced to do reformulations like this in order to keep the cost of our goods the same. So its really up to you, would you rather pay more per box or have less per box?
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