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General Mills Names Harmening president

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jun 24, 2016

General Mills, Minneapolis, appoints veteran executive Jeffrey Harmening its new president, effective July 1. The last two presidents went on to become CEO.
Harmening, 49, has worked at the company for 22 years, most recently as head of US retail. He spent the last two years as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the company's U.S. retail segment, which comprises about 60 percent of its annual revenue. He will be responsible for all company operations. Harmening will continue to report to chairman and CEO Ken Powell. General Mills has not yet named Harmening's successor.

Cereal is a challenging sector for the company, yet it's also the company's largest segment. Sales of fell 9 percent from 2011 to 2015 before going up this year.

The goal is for Harmening to plan on turning around the cereal business and bolster other struggling segments and brands.

“Jeff has a wide range of experience in both the U.S. and internationally. The timing is right to bring together overall operations under one leader. Jeff is well-positioned to accelerate our global Consumer First strategy to drive both growth and profitability,” said Powell, 62.

Harmening has been the company’s public figure on several of General Mills’ most visible decisions recently, including a bold move in March to label all of its products that contain GMOs in the face of a Vermont law that will soon require GMO labeling in that state. Instead of managing different labels in different places, the company decided to use GMO labeling on all of its products nationwide.

“We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers, and we simply won’t do that,” Harmening said in a company blog post. Earlier this month, the company also launched its first brand-new cereal brand in 15 years, Tiny Toast. General Mills hopes the new product will bolster cereal sales.