The company has 3 segments U. Our principal domestic retirement plan covering salaried employees has a provision that any excess pension assets would be allocated to active participants if the plan is terminated within five years of a change in control. Assumptions that require significant management judgment and have a material impact on the measurement of our net periodic benefit expense or income and accumulated benefit obligations include the long-term rates of return on plan assets, the interest rates used to discount the obligations for our benefit plans, and the health care cost trend rates. These transactions may expose us to potential losses due to the risk of nonperformance by these counterparties; however, we have not incurred a material loss. Changes in interest rates, mortality rates, health care costs, early retirement rates, investment returns, and the market value of plan assets can affect the funded status of our defined benefit plans and cause volatility in the net periodic benefit cost and future funding requirements of the plans. The Audit Committee recommended, and the Board of Directors approved, that the consolidated financial statements be included in the Annual Report. Generally under these swaps, we agree with a counterparty to exchange the difference between fixed-rate and floating-rate interest amounts based on an agreed upon notional principal amount.
In most product categories, we compete not only with other widely advertised branded products, but also with generic and private label products that are generally sold at lower prices. Sodiaal International Sodiaal holds the remaining 49 percent interest in Yoplait S. Many productivity initiatives involve complex reorganization of manufacturing facilities and production lines. Also included in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 are two additional months of results from the acquisition of Yoplait S. Our funding policy is consistent with the requirements of applicable laws. These activities include: payments to customers to perform merchandising activities on our behalf, such as advertising or in-store displays; discounts to our list prices to lower retail shelf prices; payments to gain distribution of new products; coupons, contests, and other incentives; and media and advertising expenditures.
General Mills is one of the largest food companies in the world. The efficient operation of our business depends on our information technology systems. General Mills makes money through producing various food products and distributing them all over the world. Excluding the impact of new businesses, net sales growth was up 3 percent. If we did not do the same, our revenues and market share could be adversely affected.
The annual reports are more comprehensive and offer a better view of the overall well-being of the corporation. The largest expense for General Mills for the years 2000, 2001, and 2002 was the same; over 50% of the revenue each year went towards the cost of sales. The stock plans provide for accelerated vesting of awards upon retirement, termination, or death of eligible employees and directors. On a weighted-average basis, the expected rate of return for all defined benefit plans was 8. There is currently no need to repatriate these funds in order to meet domestic funding obligations or scheduled cash distributions. A resource for any individual, agency, or company to find these public documents is the S.
Our finite-lived intangible assets, primarily acquired franchise agreements and customer relationships, are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. Gross margin grew 6 percent in fiscal 2013 versus fiscal 2012. Net sales grew 7 percent in fiscal 2013, including 6 percentage points of growth contributed by new businesses, primarily Yoki, Yoplait S. Commercial paper is a continuing source of short-term financing. The Board terminated this authorization in May 2014 and approved a new authorization for the repurchase of up to 100 million shares of our common stock. In connection with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, we are identifying important factors that could affect our financial performance and could cause our actual results in future periods to differ materially from any current opinions or statements. The weighted-average expected term for all employee groups is presented in the table above.
Hyacinthe, Canada Labatut, France Rooty Hill, Australia Guangzhou, China Le Mans, France Bernardo do Campo, Brazil Sanhe, China Moneteau, France Cambara, Brazil Shanghai, China Vienne, France Pouso Alegre, Brazil Arras, France San Adrian, Spain Convenience Stores and Foodservice Chanhassen, Minnesota Joplin, Missouri Martel, Ohio We operate numerous grain elevators in the United States in support of our domestic manufacturing activities. Expected Rate of Return on Plan Assets Our expected rate of return on plan assets is determined by our asset allocation, our historical long-term investment performance, our estimate of future long-term returns by asset class using input from our actuaries, investment services, and investment managers , and long-term inflation assumptions. However, on a limited case-by-case basis with prior approval, we may allow customers to return product. These estimates include our accounting for promotional expenditures, valuation of long-lived assets, intangible assets, redeemable interest, stock-based compensation, income taxes, and defined benefit pension, other postretirement, and postemployment benefits. Consumers may also reduce the amount of food that they consume away from home at customers that purchase products from our Convenience Stores and Foodservice segment. We believe that we will be able to obtain an adequate supply of needed inputs.
As for trade promotions, they are expensed based on estimated participation and performance levels for offered programs. When an item is sold or retired, the accounts are relieved of its cost and related accumulated depreciation and the resulting gains and losses, if any, are recognized in earnings. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board United States. Balance sheet, income statement, the statement of cash flow and the statement of shareholders' equity are commonly prepared for external reporting purposes. He had oversight responsibility for the Yoplait division, General Mills Canada, and New Business Development from 2002 to 2005, and has had oversight responsibility for Growth and Marketing Innovation since 2005 and Global Strategy since September 2010.
Change in Reporting Period As part of a long-term plan to conform the fiscal year ends of all our operations, we have changed the reporting period of certain countries within our International segment from an April fiscal year end to a May fiscal year end to match our fiscal calendar. Our risk management practices are discussed in Item 7A of this report. Actual future net defined benefit pension, other postretirement benefit, and postemployment benefit plan income or expense will depend on investment performance, changes in future discount rates, changes in health care cost trend rates, and other factors related to the populations participating in these plans. The decrease was primarily driven by volume declines, unfavorable net price realization, and investments to protect and grow the business. We offer a variety of food products that provide great taste, nutrition, convenience and value for consumers around the world, with a focus on five large and growing global categories: ready-to-eat cereal; convenient meals, including meal kits, ethnic meals, pizza, soup, frozen breakfast, and frozen entrees; snacks, including grain, fruit and savory snacks, nutrition bars, and frozen hot snacks; yogurt; and super-premium ice cream. During the second quarter of fiscal 2014, we entered into a net investment hedge for a portion of our net investment in foreign operations denominated in euros by issuing 500.
We could also suffer losses from a significant product liability judgment against us. Allow Blades to explore the option of exporting to Thailand by building relationships with some local suppliers. In periods of economic uncertainty, consumers may purchase more generic, private label, and other economy brands and may forego certain purchases altogether. The Green Giant trademark is licensed to a third party for use in connection with its sale of fresh produce in the United States and Europe. Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets Goodwill is not subject to amortization and is tested for impairment annually and whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that impairment may have occurred.
Their paper work is easy to read and follow and based on their records they have an endless amount of revenue in the billions. Please refer to Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements in 37 Item 8 to this report for a description of our defined benefit pension, other postretirement benefit, and postemployment benefit plans. Fiscal 2013 results include the effects from various discrete tax items, the impact of Venezuela currency devaluation, restructuring charges related to our fiscal 2012 productivity and cost savings plan, integration costs resulting from the acquisition of Yoki, and gains from the mark-to-market valuation of certain commodity positions and grain inventories. Employer incorporation or organization Identification No. As far as exporting is concerned, Blades could become the first firm to seller roller Blades in Thailand.