Yesterday, Minneapolis-based General Mills reported a net sales US$4.27bn (€3.31bn) for Q1 fiscal year (FY) 2015 - down 2% on the same period last year.
Operating profits also fell 15% to US$690m (€535m). It attributed its underperformance to "weak" industry trends and a "higher merchandising expense" for its US retail business.
The company's Convenience Stores and Foodservice segment, which incorporates US yogurt, frozen breakfast, snacks, biscuits, cereal and mixes offerings, reported a net sales increase of 1% to US$473m (€367m) and operating profit of US$87m - an 18% jump.
Yogurt, specifically Greek yogurt, played a significant role in this result, Ken Powell, CEO, General Mills, told analysts on a conference call yesterday.
“Yoplait Greek and Greek 100 remained key growth drivers for this business,” he said. “This quarter our share of the Greek segment was up 240 basis points versus last year and retail sales for original Yoplait were up 12% in the first quarter.”
Overall yogurt sales meanwhile increased 34% in the quarter - a result Powell attributed in part to the "good growth" of Yoplait Greek and foodservice product, ParfaitPro.
The July 2014 introduction of Yoplait Go-GURT low-fat strawberry yogurt as a side option in McDonald’s Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals across the US also contributed, he said.
General Mills has invested heavily in yogurt in recent years. In 2013, it relaunched Yoplait Greek after learning many consumers were "not fully satisfied" with its earlier attempt.
But there is more to come from General Mills on the yogurt front, said Powell.
“We have some exciting product news coming in the second half of the year to keep this momentum going," he told analysts.
“We still have work to do on our Yoplait Light business. It was the most directly impacted by the growth of Greek yogurt over the past few years. We recently removed aspartame from this line and we’re connecting with consumers behind the new outsmart temptation campaign."
"So some good process on yogurt this quarter, and our US Snacks division is off to a nice start," he said.