Food Business News - June 12, 2018 - 8
GENERAL MILLS, INC.
General Mills' Harmening: 'Perfection
is not the goal'
BOSTON - Changes in consumer food values, technology and food delivery stand
out as three factors contributing to "the
most dynamic environment" in Jeffrey L.
Harmening's 24 years at General Mills,
Inc., the company's chairman and chief
executive officer told participants at
the RBC Capital Markets Consumer and
Retail Conference in Boston on May 31.
"There's no doubt that it's a dynamic environment," Mr. Harmening said.
"And when you say dynamic, people
immediately see all the challenges. And
there are challenges. But the flipside of
those is opportunities for those who are
willing to take it."
General Mills' willingness to take a
chance and embrace change has served
the company well, Mr. Harmening said.
Throughout its 150-year history, General
Mills has invented the Nerf ball, owned
board game maker Parker Brothers and
focused solely on selling flour. But as
consumers' values have changed, so too
has General Mills' focus.
"One of the reasons that we've been
successful is that we've changed over
time," Mr. Harmening said. "We've lasted
150 years for a reason, and that's because
we like to win and we're up for change."
Not every decision General Mills has
made has turned up a winner, though,
Mr. Harmening said. But, he added, "perfection is not the goal."
"We clearly missed the trend in
Greek yogurt, and we were late to that,"
he admitted. "So we haven't seen every
trend, and we're not perfect."
Instead of perfection, General Mills
has made it a priority to keep improving
and to keep changing with the times, Mr.
"Whether that's how we do strategic revenue management or the fact we
brought in somebody from e-commerce
from the outside," he explained. "We
added a new category like Blue Buffalo.
We've sold businesses like Green Giant,
like our restaurant businesses."
Now, as in the past, General Mills is
focused on blocking the external noise
that may sidetrack the company.
"I think the key for us is to keep our
eyes right on the consumer and where
they're going and what they want, because
we have never delivered what consumers
want and lost. Ever," Mr. Harmening said.
"And in this environment, one of the big
dangers I think for us as a food company
is that there's so much going on in the
external environment. You can't ignore it,
because to ignore it would be foolish. But
if you try to chase everything, the noise
can become a real distraction. And so for
us, it's a matter of staying focused on what
the consumer wants and delivering that,
where they want it and how they want
it. And that might mean for us Wanchai
Ferry dumplings in China - we're actually delivering it under 30 minutes warm
in Shanghai. It might mean selling pet
food. It might mean a number of things,
but it really is staying focused on what the
consumer is looking for." FBN
Starbucks' Howard Schultz to step
down following 40 years
SEATTLE - After nearly 40 years as a leader
of Starbucks Corp., Howard Schultz is
stepping down as executive chairman and
member of the board, effective June 26.
Mr. Schultz, who now will become
Starbucks' chairman emeritus, transitioned
from chief executive officer to executive
chairman of Starbucks on April 3, 2017. At
that time, he shifted his focus to innovation, design and development of Starbucks
Roastery stores and Reserve bar initiatives around the world, expansion of the
Food Business News
Starbucks Reserve retail store format and
the company's social impact initiatives.
Mr. Schultz also served as Starbucks' c.e.o. from 1987 to 2000, eventually stepping down to focus on the
company's global strategy. He remained
chairman of the board until 2008, when
he reclaimed the top position.
During Mr. Schultz's time as chairman and c.e.o. of Starbucks, the chain
grew from 11 stores to more than 28,000
stores in 77 countries. Under his leadership,
Starbucks said, the company delivered a
21,000% gain in stock price value since its
initial public offering in 1992.
"I set out to build a company that my
father, a blue-collar worker and World
War II veteran, never had a chance to
work for," Mr. Schultz said in a letter
addressed to past and present Starbucks
partners. "Together we've done that, and
so much more, by balancing profitability
and social conscience, compassion and
rigor, and love and responsibility." FBN
June 12, 2018