Speaking to the Consumer Analyst Group of New York, General Mills chairman and chief executive Steve Sanger said that the company was “on track” to meet its earnings guidance of US$2.80 to $2.85 per share, including debt expenses of 8 cents per share, and outlined the company’s plans for future growth.

“We see 2006 as the start of a new growth phase for General Mills,” Sanger said at the conference, which was broadcast over the Internet. He said that the company hoped to boost earnings to $4 per share by 2010, with desired sales of $13bn.

The company anticipates that retail sales will be at the forefront of expansion, reaching a projected $8.8bn by 2010.

General Mills believes its share of the cereal market has increased year-on-year, with its share reaching 32% in December. “As usual”, sales declined in January, but this reflects seasonal trends rather than a poor performance, Sanger said.

Bakery, food services and international businesses are expected to contribute a less substantial $500m profit by 2010, increasing from $300m last year.

“We expect the combination of sales and profit growth to drive consistent high-single-digit EPS growth for General Mills (GIS) through the rest of this decade,” Sanger said.

General Mills expects “continued good net sales growth” in the second-half of 2006 financial year, Sanger said. This will help to counter the negative impact of anticipated increases in the cost of materials and other expenses.

Innovation and improved productivity will underpin General Mills’ (GIS) performance in fiscal 2007 to offset higher costs, Sanger said.