Cheerios’ new box uses 4% less materials and fits 10% more cereal.
General Mills has found a way to reduce the amount of packaging
it uses for its bulk boxes of Cheerios. Thanks to a proprietary technology that
had been under development for five years, the cereal now settles on the
production line instead of during shipping, says Liz Mahler, General Mills’
marketing manager for the product. As a result, 10% more cereal fits into the
boxes, reducing the packaging per volume and the related shipping costs and
The new boxes hit the shelves at Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s in
February. Even though they contain 10% more cereal, the boxes are actually
smaller, too: the new bulk packages consume roughly 4% fewer materials,
resulting in an estimated reduction of 200,000 pounds of paperboard a year.
That's the equivalent of more than 1,000 trees. Between the smaller boxes and
the higher volume of cereal, the boxes are now 92% full instead of 75% full,
says Ron Sasine, Walmart’s senior director for private label packaging.
Fitting more cereal into less space means fewer trucks are
needed to transport the same volume of Cheerios. General Mills estimates it
will need 10% less trucking for these boxes, which will save 25,000 gallons of
fuel and reduce its carbon footprint by 220 metric tons annually. The company
accomplished the smaller packaging – and more cereal per package – in spite of
trading a single big box for a package of two smaller, connected boxes that can
be split apart.
General Mills used the redesign to tackle one challenge it had
been having with its previous bulk boxes: It turns out customers don't like big
boxes. “They’re just bulky,” Mahler says of the old packages. She says ease of
storing and pouring is the biggest barrier to the bigger sizes, although
customer research showed that consumers like the value of larger packages.