General Mills Inc.

11/18/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/18/2019 06:16

We’re pumped about pumpkin spice

innovation

Nov 18, 2019 • By Kevin Hunt

As Thanksgiving Day approaches in the U.S., it will bring the unofficial end to another season of our popular pumpkin spice products.

Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, which debuted in 2016, tends to get most of the attention. But this year we had at least 16 pumpkin-flavored products, from several brands.

Pumpkin spice continues to show up in a variety of products and food categories, from us and our competitors.

A recent story in Fortune said annual sales of pumpkin spice-flavored products reached $511.5 million in the last year, through Aug. 25, 2019. That's a nearly 5% jump from $488.8 million in 2018, according to Nielsen.

More people in the U.S. look forward to fall than any other season, says Jeanine Bassett, our vice president of Consumer Insights. And that also figures into the reason people prefer pumpkin and pumpkin spice. It's in in the brain.

'There is magic about flavors that are different than other elements of holidays,' says Bassett. 'Because it's sensorial. The taste taps into your olfactory sense, and that is connected actually to the memories in your brain.' (Hear from Basset in this audio clip).

Our list of products this fall included Oui by Yoplait's Pumpkin Caramel flavor yogurt, Pillsbury Grands! Pumpkin Spice Rolls, Pumpkin Spice Cake Mug Treats from Betty Crocker and LÄRABAR's Pumpkin Pie bar.

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In addition to our pumpkin spice products, our recipes sites also get strong interest in pumpkin creations. Searches for 'pumpkin' peak every September, October and November at BettyCrocker.com, Pillsbury.com and Tablespoon.com.

While we had pumpkin-flavored products for several years before Pumpkin Spice Cheerios launched, the cereal represented our biggest acknowledgement of the pumpkin spice trend.

Made with real pumpkin puree and a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios arrived to rave reviews when it hit shelves.

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'People love the cereal, which is why we keep bringing it back every year,' says Liz Mascolo, a business unit director in our U.S. Cereal group, in Fortune. 'They look for it everywhere.'

With no sign of slowing down, pumpkin spice products appear here to stay.

And if you're wondering which pumpkin product is the most popular, there's no surprise. But the list does include something unexpected.

Pumpkin pie filling is at the top, according to Bassett. Followed by … pumpkin-flavored dog food.

'It's not because the dogs are asking for it,' jokes Bassett. 'It is those pet parents wanting to bring their babies into the joy that they are experiencing. And that's that's a way in for them.'

Yes, our Blue Buffalo pet food brand makes dog biscuits with pumpkin flavors.

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Kevin Hunt manages the corporate content and channels at General Mills, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He oversees corporate social media, the 'A Taste of General Mills' blog, GeneralMills.com and the company's intranet. He began his career at General Mills in 2010. More posts by this author