General Mills is “Most Reputable” Large Co. in U.S.

On the Reputation Institute's list of "America's Most and Least Reputable Big Companies," the Golden Valley-based food manufacturer jumped 14 spots from its 2011 ranking and beat out Seattle-based Amazon, last year's top-ranked company.

General Mills, Inc., is the most reputable large company in the United States, according to a new ranking compiled by the Reputation Institute, a New York-based private consulting firm, and published by Forbes.

On the list of “America's Most and Least Reputable Big Companies,” which includes nine Minnesota-based corporate giants, the Golden Valley-based food manufacturer jumped 14 spots from its 2011 ranking and beat out Seattle-based, last year's top-ranked company.

In the first quarter of 2012, the Reputation Institute conducted an online study that measured the perceptions of 10,198 consumers regarding the 150 largest companies in the nation.

Each company earned a score between zero and 100. The scores represent an average measure of people's feelings for a company. The scores were statistically derived from four emotional indicators: trust, esteem, admiration, and good feeling.

General Mills' 2012 score jumped 5.56 points from last year and was three points higher than the score assigned to second-ranked Kraft Foods; General Mills also surpassed's 2011 score of 82.7.

Behind General Mills and rounding out the top five companies on the list were Kraft Foods, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Kellogg's; and, in that order.

Anthony Johndrow, managing partner at the Reputation Institute, told Forbes that General Mills is perceived as being a good corporate citizen because it has made its cereals more healthy for consumers.

“General Mills has focused heavily on citizenship and governance aspects of its business with recent acquisitions and expanding community support globally,” Johndrow said. “They acquired Food Should Taste Good, a natural snack foods company, [and have an] initiative with Outnumber Hunger and Eat Better America.”

Johndrow pointed out that General Mills has also taken steps to make its packaging more sustainable-which has elicited applause from politicians and others.

Here's a look at all of the Minnesota companies on the “America's Most and Least Reputable Big Companies” list in order of rankings-along with the reputation score assigned to each:

1. General Mills, Inc.-83
22. Target Corporation-74.2
27. 3M Company-73.9
28. Medtronic, Inc.-73.8
58. Best Buy Company-68.8
82. Supervalu, Inc.-65.7
87. UnitedHealth Group, Inc.-65.2
112. U.S. Bancorp-60.7
122. Xcel Energy, Inc.-59.7

“We value our corporate reputation tremendously and work hard every day to foster and honor the trust of our stakeholders,” General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell told the Reputation Institute. “For us, building this trust includes delivering nutrition and value to consumers through innovation, strong community engagement, a commitment to protecting the environment, as well as developing strong leaders to grow our business around the world. We believe consumers reward companies that operate with integrity and stay focused on doing what is right over the long-term.”