Do phrases like “low fat,” “gluten-free,” “made with real fruit” and “good source of vitamin C” on the package of a processed fruit snack product make you think that the product is a healthy food? These phrases have all been on the packaging of fruit-like snack substances from General Mills: Froot by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Gushers. Marketing copy on the front of a box is no substitute for taking a moment to read nutrition information and ingredients. But that hasn’t stopped the Center for Science in the Public Interest from filing a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company tried to make consumers believe that their products were wholesome and fruit-based, not full of trans fats, preservatives, and food coloring. [More]
Once upon a time, the comedy duo of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong (some refer to them as Cheech and Chong) were as closely associated with marijuana as rolling papers and bongs. But oh how times have changed and priorities have shifted from getting high on pot brownies to getting high amounts of fiber from brownies. [More]
Great news, easily confused consumers! General Mills has forced the local Utah bakery “My Dough Girl” to change its name so you won’t confuse their hand-crafted specialty cookies with the Pillsbury Doughboy. The company sent the two-year-old local bakery a cease and desist letter complete with a gag order explaining that the bakery could “tarnish the company’s reputation.” [More]
Have you ever dreamed of winning a year’s supply of Honey Nut Cheerios? No? Well, in case you did, you might have imagined a warehouse full of the honeybee-kissed circles of tedium. And you might have imagined incorrectly, because according to General Mills, just 12 boxes of the stuff should get you through a year. [More]
A Brooklyn, NY woman is suing General Mills for allegedly misleading consumers about Fruit Roll-Ups. She claims they are not quite as healthful as the packaging would like you to believe because they contain partially hydrogenated oil. [More]
Guess what they call the Grocery Shrink Ray at General Mills? “Holistic Margin Management.” I thinks that’s also what they call it in 1984. Another interesting fact from a StarTribune article looking at shrinking packages: customers are more likely to notice a change in the height rather than the width of a box. But does anyone really care?
Dan can do math in his head, which is a great skill these days when you’re checking out the n objects for x price! specials at Target. In this case, Dan notes that the “temporary price cut” is so temporary that it doesn’t even exist: you’ll pay 13 cents more per box if you buy three of them. This is the third Target “special” we’ve seen this month that screws the consumer. Are we seeing a new trend? Is it legal to call it a price cut if it’s not?
The Research Institute has compiled a list of the most reputable companies in the U.S., “calculated by averaging perceptions of trust, esteem, admiration, and good feeling obtained from a representative sample of 100 local respondents who were familiar with the company.” (Then they do some statistical stuff to it.) Coming in at #1 is Google, which we think is remarkable considering how much data the company has managed to collect over the past several years, and continues to collect with new record-keeping initiatives like Google Health.
Frugal Frugalson over at Picking up Nickles made a side-by-side comparison of General Mills’ newer “Right Size, Right Price” cereal boxes. Apparently, the right size is 1.5 oz less, and the right price is about 9% more.
Donning my detective’s cap, I found that the 14oz box of General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios at my local market had been replaced by a 12.5oz box for the same $2.99 price. That works out to a 8.9% price increase, which is a bit larger than the average price increase of 2.9% claimed in this New York Times article.
U.S. companies are developing new safety measures in response to the continued rumbling of the Chinese Poison Train. The measures, along with renewed federal interest in food safety, suggest that we may be in the midst of a food safety revolution similar to the one that reformed the meatpacking industry after the publication of Upton Sinclaire’s “The Jungle.”
For the companies, the problem is two-fold: figuring out exactly what to test for and maintaining control over their network of suppliers, even as they turn to China for vast quantities of imports at lower prices.
Three companies are trying three different strategies to cope with the uncertain quality of China’s exports:
Get ready to pay the more money for fewer Cheerios, starting June 25. General Mills has announced that they will be decreasing the size of their popular cereal boxes as a cost cutting measure, as well as raising the prices. From the Wall Street Journal:
The company also hopes its “Right Size, Right Price” initiative will boost margins — something all food companies are trying to do as they get squeezed by lower-cost, private-label goods and more-expensive fresh and organic food.
Less Cheerios for more money! Yay! Wait. —MEGHANN MARCO
General Mills venerable bee evidently hasn’t been busy enough, forcing the cereal making whore itself in back alleys and dimly lit parks, in the form of new FRUITY CHEERIOS.While consumers report it “tastes just like Fruit Loops,” the box boasts it contains 25% less sugars than the leading fruity cereals (10g vs 14g of sugar). In fact, roughly 1/7 of the box space seems devoted to extolling the product’s health benefits. Wethinks the cereal doth protest too much.