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General Mills goes natural & gluten-free

Now that Janet Yellen reiterated on Wednesday that investors should expect a rate hike later this year, Jim Cramer is wondering what to do with high-quality packaged food names with a strong dividend, like General Mills.

General Mills has a large array of brands spanning from Cheerios, Chex, Pillsbury, Progresso, Yoplait and Betty Crocker to its natural and organic business, which includes the recently acquired Annie's.

The company reported a few weeks ago, and while revenues were hit because of the strong dollar, it still managed to beat Wall Street's earnings estimates by 4 cents.

"It was truly an impressive showing in a challenged category," the "Mad Money" host said.

On Tuesday General Mills hosted its annual investor day, where it outlined its plans to grow its business, including launching Yoplait in China and to dramatically expand its natural and organic product base dramatically.

To hear more on its plans for growth, Cramer spoke with General Mills chairman and CEO Ken Powell.





Kendall Powell, CEO, General Mills
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Kendall Powell, CEO, General Mills
"Frankly the pace of change in these consumer markets today is faster than I've ever seen it" -Ken Powell

The CEO shared that General Mills has set high standards for this year, driven by an energy that stems from a rapidly changing consumer. As a result, General Mills must adapt through its product renovation, international expansion and growth in emerging markets.

Part of that renovation is to gear products toward the natural and organic food wave that has swept the U.S. In fact, in consumer studies, the company found that over half of people wanted less artificial colors and flavors in their food. As a result, General Mills has pledged to completely remove all artificial flavors and colors from its cereals by 2017.

The company decided to gear its products to be friendly for people with celiac disease or with gluten intolerance by removing gluten from its cereal as well.

"Frankly, the pace of change in these consumer markets today is faster than I've ever seen it," Powell said.

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Powell added that part of the initiative to adapt to rapidly changing consumer values is to listen carefully and give the consumer what they want at a higher pace of innovation.

Ultimately, the company has set aggressive goals of growing its cereal brand, snack and organic products.

"Snacking is the new meal in the U.S. Over half of our meals are snacks…as consumers snack more they are thinking more about the kind of snacks that they eat," Powell said.

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