Food innovators can click with General Mills

Articles
November 11, 2009

Food innovators can click with General Mills

General Mills, no slouch in product development, is using the Web to share some of its innovation challenges with food scientists, researchers and inventors who might be able to help

General Mills, no slouch in product development, is using the Web to share some of its innovation challenges with food scientists, researchers and inventors who might be able to help. For viable ideas submitted via the www.GeneralMills.com/WIN website, a licensing or joint venture offer is possible, as is up to $50,000 in the food-making giant’s money to fund demonstrations.

“We count on new product innovation to help us continue to meet the evolving needs of …consumers. We believe that there is a great opportunity for us to enhance and accelerate our innovation efforts by teaming up with world-class innovators from outside of our company,” reads the welcome message from chief executive officer Ken Powell.

The site acts as a fast track for outside experts to communicate directly with General Mills about resolving some of its technical challenges with respect to food. Unconventional, yes.  But in our view, this is a smart, progressive way for General Mills to potentially connect with talented people who might otherwise be intimidated by the company’s size, or not know how to navigate to the right individuals.

CPG that has built a Web presence with consumers has focused mostly on sales and marketing. Here’s a departure done in a way that: might bring the company needed solutions; and gives curious consumers a glimpse at some of the scientific complexities behind the manufacture of breakfast cereals, ice creams, frozen vegetables and more.  

Time will tell if this exposure leads to a greater appreciation of these foods or the company’s brands. If so, that would be an important secondary benefit of swinging its doors open via the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network portal.

For now, the intent is to surmount 47 food barriers abstracted on its website, with likely many more in the pipeline to follow. Among those listed:  Approaches to prevent oxidative rancidity of polyunsaturated fats in grain. Low capital ice cream hardening processes. Fizzy/effervescent materials for intermediate moisture foods. Novel shelf-stable baking products for kids. Retail-ready packaging solutions.

Salivating yet?