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The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its Associate Member Council (AMC) today presented General Mills and Batter Blaster with the 2011 CPG Award for Innovation and Creativity. The award is given annually to creative, innovative companies that have made a significant impact on the industry knowledge base. The awards were given out during the Leadership Luncheon at the GMA Executive Conference at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“This award celebrates industry creativity and innovation, and these winners have proven to be exemplary in both,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of Washington-based GMA. “General Mills and Batter Blaster have found creative ways to provide consumers with healthier, more sustainable products at a time when consumers are demanding both innovation and value during today’s challenging economy.”
GMA received a record number of entries this year and judged applications in two manufacturer divisions: those from companies with total sales under $3 billion, and those from companies with $3 billion and over in sales.
Launched in 2007, Batter Blaster earned the Division A title by creating not only a new product, but a completely new category in the CPG marketplace with its Organic Original Pancake and Waffle Batter, which comes in a patent-pending pressurized can. Available in four flavors containing 90 calories or fewer per serving, the item found its in-store destination on retail shelves via line extensions, product demonstrations, event marketing, social media and word of mouth.
“We’ve certainly learned that innovation takes guts -- it’s not the path of least resistance,” noted Sean O’Connor, founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Batter Blaster. “It requires massive changes in consumer behavior and the education and awareness to gain that mindshare. But innovation can change even the oldest of categories. Ready-made pancake mix has been around since 1889; Batter Blaster is still shaking up that category more than 120 years later, adding new consumers and growth to a typically traditional category.”
CPG powerhouse General Mills received the Division B award for the development, launch and use of the Oat Hulls Biomass Burner. After oats arrive at General Mills’ plants in Fridley, Minn., and Minneapolis, they’re milled to make oat flour for Cheerios. The process leaves a lot of leftover oat hulls -- more than 80,000 tons every year. The biomass burner at the Fridley facility burns the oat hulls to produce more than 90 percent of the steam necessary to heat the plant and produce the oat flour used in making Cheerios and other products.
At a time when natural gas prices were on the rise, General Mills leveraged its knowledge of the energy potential of oat hulls to design and install a biomass burner that almost eliminated the need for natural gas at the plant and reduced its carbon footprint by 21 percent.
“Our biomass burner addressed two compelling business needs -- saving money and reducing our footprint on the environment for years to come,” explained Ken Powell, chairman and CEO of General mills. “We’ve sharpened our focus on building sustainability into every step, from seed to spoon, and this project is one of the most recent and visible successes from this journey. Accomplishments such as the biomass burner inspire and challenge all General Mills employees to dream big when developing creative solutions to make General Mills an even more sustainable company.”
“Overall, the quality of submissions was impressive, and the award subcommittee had its work cut out,” said AMC Chairman Greg Smith of New York-based KPMG LLP. “But both winners demonstrated a unique execution of originality and resourcefulness that benefits not only the demand of the consumers, but the industry as a whole.”