Quote, unquote: just-food's week in words

By Michelle Russell | 3 December 2012

Last week, just-food spoke with ConAgra's president of sales Doug Knudsen in the wake of the company's deal to acquire Ralcorp. Other deals this week  included the purchase of Metro Group's eastern European operations by Auchan, while Ahold outlined progress on its "six strategic pillars" strategy at its Capital Markets day in the US.

"This is an extremely compelling deal. Over many years, private label has grown faster than branded" - ConAgra CFO John Gehring touts the benefits of its acquisition of private-label rival Ralcorp Holdings.

"To us, this is a clear indication of the capacity issues that are currently weighing on Post, though, as we've seen in the past, simultaneously running a branded and private label portfolio is wrought with execution risk" - Barclays Capital analyst Andrew Lazar questions whether Post Holdings could successfully grow brands and private label.

"To be clear: we remain fully committed to our brands. It's still the largest portfolio of our business but we have operated effectively for quite some time under a branded and private-label portfolio" - Doug Knudsen, president of sales at ConAgra responds to concerns on Wall Street about whether the company can, in the long term, grow brands and private label following its acquisition of Ralcorp.

"Our principles taken together with previous guidance provide supermarkets with a clear benchmark for how they should be operating so that their food and drink promotions reflect the spirit as well as the letter of the law" - Office of Fair Trading chief executive Clive Maxwell explains the new set of "principles" on special offers and promotions on food and drink products implemented by the UK competition watchdog.

"We have a good level of interest in all elements. We're certainly hoping to give a progress report soon" - a spokesperson for Dutch food group Vion says it has received enquiries over the purchase of its pork arm.

"With Auchan, we found the most suitable buyer for Real's business activities in Eastern Europe" - chairman of Metro's management board Olaf Koch on the group's decision to sell its Real grocery chain in eastern Europe to French retailer Auchan for EUR1.1bn (US$1.4bn).

"We strongly believe in this market for us and the opportunity to leverage what we have in the Netherlands" - Sander van der Laan, COO of Ahold's European operations outlines the success the group has had in Belgium and its plans to double store count in 2013.

"The UPA is fully united on any decision of the Speaker and the Government... all constituents are firmly behind the Government" - Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath says India's Government is "not averse to discussion" on the issue of FDI under any rules.

"We are confident that our product labelling and consumer materials about flavanol antioxidants are factual and supported by hundreds of scientific studies" - a spokesperson for Hershey responds to a lawsuit the firm is facing over antioxidant labelling claims made on its two of its products.

"We are committed to and believe in the future of the US dairy industry and we are here for the long haul," Agropur CEO Robert Coallier said the company plans to "significantly increase" production capacity at a plant in Wisconsin as part of its largest-ever capex programme in the US.

Sectors: Advertising & labelling, Baby food, Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Dried foods, Emerging markets, Financials, Food safety, Fresh produce, Frozen, Health & wellness, Ice cream, Meat & poultry, Mergers & acquisitions, Natural & organic, NPD & innovation, Private label, Retail, Seafood, Snacks, Sustainability & the environment, World foods

Companies: Auchan, Ahold, Metro Group, Vion, Ralcorp Holdings, Post Holdings, Hershey, Agropur

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