Natural enough? Organic labeling lawsuit hits General Mills sentiment score

Blog August 29, 2018

General Mills has been increasing organic and natural food offerings in recent years, including the brand Annie’s and Nature Valley snack bars. By 2020, the company hopes to reach $1.5B in sales from this part of its portfolio.

Not all natural products are the same though, and General Mills’ progress with environmentally-minded consumers hit a rough patch recently when the company was sued for labelling snack bars as “Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats” despite the use of the pesticide glyphosate to produce them.

The company settled the suit and agreed to change its labelling, but the incident left a mark on its ESG and intangible factor record, as seen in the real-time data on Truvalue Labs’ platform.

When news of the settlement was captured by Truvalue Labs in August, including this item, the company’s timely Pulse Score, which reflects breaking events, fell by half, from 68 to 34 on Truvalue Labs’ 100-point scale.

The longer-term Insight Score, which reflects enduring performance by companies, shows General Mills has an above-average record for intangible factors when compared with its peers in the Processed Foods industry.

That includes actions such as these:

  • Partnership with Midwestern BioAg (MBA) to provide on-the-ground mentorship for the farm operators to advance leading regenerative soil management practices
  • Partnership with Organic Valley to help 20 dairy farms add 3,000 acres of organic production
  • Financial support for University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative that grows crops, promoting soil development

Another way for investment professionals to conduct research on firms like General Mills to analyze their sustainability performance is Truvalue Labs’ Thematic Search function, which allows for keyword search for a word like “organic.”

In this case, seen below, that search was limited to General Mills to examine results tagged to the company.