Don't expect Golden Valley- based General Mills to repeat the public relations nightmare that Target Corp. suffered after it made a donation to a pro-business political group.
At General Mills' annual meeting Monday, a shareholder asked Chief Executive Ken Powell about the company's policy on political donations in light of Target's experience.
The answer was brief but pointed: "We have not done this, and have no plans to do so," Powell told investors at the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis.
Target's gift of $150,000 to MNForward, which backs Republican Tom Emmer for governor, was met with calls for boycotts. Supporters of gay rights said Emmer's opposition to gay marriage is at odds with Target's policies and long-standing commitment to workplace equality.
Target said the donation was based solely on Emmer's tax and jobs platforms. But as protest swelled, the company's chief executive ended up publicly apologizing for the donation.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision in January allowed much broader corporate influence in political campaigns, setting the stage for donations to the group MNForward from several Minnesota companies, including Best Buy, Securian and Pentair.
Powell also updated shareholders on a dispute between General Mills and a French dairy firm over the Yoplait yogurt trademark. Earlier this month Sodima informed General Mills that it was terminating the agreement after failing to renegotiate more-lucrative terms.
But General Mills said the agreement doesn't have language allowing Sodima to terminate or even renegotiate. General Mills has filed a petition to arbitrate the dispute with the International Chamber of Commerce's International Court of Arbitration in New York.
Powell said Monday that the dispute will take "months, if not years" to resolve. "Meanwhile, it's business as usual" with Yoplait.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003