Food company General Mills has brought together 11 of the UK’s top convenience retailers to help raise awareness of the importance of the better for you snacking category in the channel, and has invested in its field sales team.

Each of the 11 retailers has committed to work alongside General Mills to demystify the category. The manufacturer has three major brands within better for you snacking: Nature Valley, Fibre One and Larabar.

Starting from 2 September, the new 30-strong field sales team aims to make thousands of calls to stores across the country to offer tailored merchandising, PoS, category advice and trend insight.

Clare Ryal, convenience controller at General Mills, will be chairing the panel. She said: “At the moment, almost every store you walk into has a different space allocated for better for you snacking. Some are large and located where we recommend – near food to go and confectionery – while others are mixed in with biscuits or have very little presence at all.

“There are two key principles to driving category growth – getting the right range to meet the different need states (energy boost, diet management, sweet experience etc) and execution excellence: making sure retailers have the best possible location, space and activation.

“With our new field sales team, we want to make it clear for retailers where their better for you snacks should be located. As a business, we have a lot of data and insights, but having worked in the convenience channel for many years, I know there’s nothing as valuable as the direct feedback from retailers themselves.”

Karen Jenkins, sales director at General Mills, said: “As well as officially launching our retailer panel we’re thrilled to be investing in our field sales force. We’re confident their advice to retailers from across the country will help increase their bar sales.”

The retailer panel was handpicked by General Mills to ensure a broad range of sizes, symbol groups and locations across the UK, and includes the award-winning forecourt retailer Rachael Hockmeyer, of Hockmeyer Motors Spar Sleaford.

The retailers have recently had their fixtures relayed to trial the General Mills category advice.

As a result of retailer feedback, General Mills recently released an optimised case size (11 count) for its Nature Valley single bars to ensure better fit on shelf. It also released the popular Fibre One Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Fibre One Peanut Butter Popcorn bars in single format.

Ryal concluded: “The insights and feedback the retailers have given us is already proving invaluable. Once we have the results from our snacking trials, we’ll almost certainly be looking to extend the programme to our other brands, including Häagen-Dazs, Yoplait and Old El Paso.”