GMO-Free Cheerios Fail to Move the Needle

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Mar 25, 2014

We trumpeted the headline "Cheerios Now GMO-Free" back in January. Nearly three months – but only three months – into the new formulation for its iconic cereal, General Mills Inc. sees no pickup in sales.

In a phone interview in late March with the Associated Press, Chairman and CEO Kenneth Powell said the company has received good press, supportive letters and positive online comments for its decision but no incremental sales.

"It's what I expected," Powell told the AP. He said he was "not really seeing anything there that we can detect" in terms of a sales improvement. And the news organization paraphrased him as saying genetically modified organisms aren't really a concern for most customers.

General Mills started shipping only its plain-formula Cheerios without GMOs in January. A spokesman explained the oats part was easy – he said there are no GMO oats – but the company had to find non-GMO sources of corn starch and cane sugar.

Big G used a low-key approach in the rollout, not really trumpeting the change except on the box – although it did get noticed by traditional and social media. AP said the reformulation came after a campaign by the group Green America, which prompted fans to express their support on the Cheerios' Facebook page.

Green America noted General Mills did not obtain third-party verification, such as from the Non-GMO Project, for its claim.