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Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press

General Mills Inc’s quarterly sales missed Wall Street expectations on Wednesday, hit by weak demand for its baking products and snacks in the United States and a slowdown in the international markets, sending its shares down about 4 per cent before the bell.

The Cheerios cereal maker has been struggling to boost sales for its snacks and yogurt in the U.S. as consumers move away from processed and sugary foods to healthier options.

Sales from its North America retail unit, its biggest business, were flat at $2.38 billion with a 1 per cent revenue drop in the U.S. snacks division and meals and baking segment.

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The company also saw sales decline in its international markets that include Europe & Australia and Asia and Latin America, partly hurt by a strong dollar.

“We got off to a slower start in our other segments, and we’re taking actions to drive topline improvement for those segments,” General Mills chief executive officer Jeff Harmening said in a statement.

Its pet segment, however, showed a 7 per cent rise in sales on growing demand for premium pet foods.

Overall, company’s net sales slipped 2.2 per cent to $4 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $4.08 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

However, excluding items, the company earned 79 cents per share, beating analysts expectation of 77 cents, helped by cost savings efforts.

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