General Mills to axe artificial flavors from cereals

June 23 00:14 2015

General Mills will get rid of artificial flavors and colors from all of its cereals by 2017, the company said Monday. Cereals such as Trix and Reese’s Puffs will be getting a natural reboot with ingredients including fruit and vegetable juices, and natural vanilla. “We’ve continued to listen to consumers who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels and challenged ourselves to remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals,” said Jim Murphy, president of General Mills cereal division, in a statement.GTY 455979750 A FIN USA FL

General Mills declined to say how much it’s investing to upgrade ingredients, but the cost won’t be passed along to consumers, says spokesman Mike Siemienas. General Mills cereals include Corn Chex, Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Wheaties and Fiber One. Artificial ingredients are already absent from 60% of its cereals, the company said, which either never had them or were already replaced.

The company began reformulating colorful cereals like Trix about three years ago, it says, testing different spice blends and natural dyes to find replacements for the artificial colors it was using. Not every color survived the years of research. When it rolls out this winter, Trix will have four colors instead of six. Green and blue didn’t make the cut. “We’re continuing to work on them but they didn’t deliver on that vibrant color that we expect from Trix,” says Kate Gallager, a General Mills cereal developer. Reese’s Puffs will no longer be artificially colored, but Gallager says the difference is barely noticeable.

Reformulating cereals with marshmallows will be a focus next year, says the company, adding this may take longer than grain-heavy cereals. More than 90% of the cereal portfolio will be artificial-free by the end of 2016, General Mills says, with 100% free by the end of 2017. The hardest part about switching from artificial ingredients to natural ingredients is maintaining consistent flavor and texture, according to Gallager. Natural dyes like turmeric, paprika, and fruit and vegetable concentrates can sometimes impart too much flavor or don’t produce colors that are as bold.