St. Paul Pioneer Press
High profits in lean times
Productivity gains help General Mills keep lid on prices
By Julie Forster
To understand why General Mills keeps growing profit margins even as raw material and transportation costs spike, consider a box of Hamburger Helper.
The company made the box smaller while keeping the contents’ volume the same. That allowed it to make the cases the boxes ship in smaller. And that means it was able to squeeze more cases onto trucks.
“In a world where oil is over $100 a barrel, using the truck fleet more efficiently and moving more products on the same truck is a very, very significant cost savings for us,” Ken Powell, General Mills’ chief executive said in an interview. “We have hundreds and hundreds of examples like that across our business where we are looking for opportunities. It is really helping us offset a very large percentage of commodity price increases.”