Food Market brings news, talk and insight into the food business, from farms to supermarkets to restaurants. Reporters Mike Hughlett and Tom Meersman delve into the work of Minnesota’s food companies and issues such as food safety and labeling.

General Mills opens big innovation center in China

Posted by: Mike Hughlett Updated: July 15, 2014 - 10:25 AM

General Mills Tuesday unveiled its first innovation and technology center in China, one of the packaged food giant’s most important markets.

The $15 million project is the first major General Mills technical center outside of the company’s headquarters in Golden Valley. It has smaller technical centers in France, Brazil and India.

General Mills CEO Ken Powell is in China today for the inauguration of the new facility. “Our new technical center in Shanghai provides General Mills a tremendous opportunity to accelerate growth in the greater China region,” Powell said in a press statement.

China is a key growth market for packaged food makers. General Mills is particularly strong in ice cream in China with its Haagen-Dazs brand, and also is big in frozen dinners with under the Wanchai Ferry banner.

General Mills, which controls the Yoplait brand worldwide, is preparing to enter the $8 billion yogurt market in China and has begun building a new yogurt plant. The company currently has three food production plants in China.

General Mills’ sales in China have grown at a 15 percent annual compound rate over the past four years, reaching over $700 million in 2014.

The company now derives about one-third of its overall $17 billion in sales from overseas markets, with Europe being the largest.

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