General Mills is starting the second phase of its growth plan for Blue Buffalo pet food: new product lines.

The Golden Valley-based company revealed details of its Carnivora line for the pet-food brand Monday ahead of its annual Investor Day event, which will be in New York on Tuesday. As its name implies, Carnivora is a “prey-style” line of foods derived from more animal ingredients.

The food maker bought Blue Buffalo for $8 billion last year believing that the fast-growing brand and pet-food market would help augment slower-growing sales of food.

General Mills’ strategy first involved increasing distribution of existing Blue Buffalo products, particularly in mass-market channels, like Walmart. It completed that expansion this spring.

The company is still reserving some details of Carnivora for its investor meeting on Tuesday. But a brief description was included in its companywide new-product announcement, a twice-yearly happening that generally includes new flavors of cereals and snacks. Among a few dozen other new offerings, General Mills said it will add a blueberry version of Cheerios, its top-selling cereal, and a new drinkable yogurt smoothie from Yoplait.

The Carnivora line is aimed at consumers wanting to feed their dogs and cats a higher-protein food mix. It is made from meat, nutrient-dense organs, vitamins, minerals and cartilage, the company said, that is good for pets’ joints.

Executives first announced the line during an investor call at the time of its earnings report last month.

“What we are seeing with consumers, particularly millennials, is they are looking for higher-quality products, and they are willing to pay for it,” Don Mulligan, General Mills’ chief financial officer, told the Star Tribune about the Carnivora line.

The new products are also an attempt to regain some distribution losses with pet-specialty retailers like Petco and Pet Smart. Many of those specialty retailers reduced in-store shelf space for Blue Buffalo when General Mills started selling the brand in food, drug and mass retailers this year.

Carnivora will be available later this summer and sold in cans of wet food and bags of dry food.


Kristen Leigh Painter 612-673-4767