Riboud said Danone will use "mix" and "productivity" to fight higher input costs

Riboud said Danone will use "mix" and "productivity" to fight higher input costs

The Consumer Analyst Group of New York annual conference was held in Florida this week and, as ever, produced some notable comments as the great and the good of the US food sector detailed - and sometimes defended - their strategies. Danone issued its full-year numbers and shed some light on how it plans to mitigate surging dairy prices in 2014. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart - the world's largest retailer - offered a sober assessment on the outlook for consumer sentiment in the coming year. Here is just-food's week in words.

"PepsiCo's management and board of directors have spoken clearly on this issue and are fully aligned with our strategy outlined last week. We engaged constructively with Trian and invested a large amount of management time and significant financial resources analysing Trian's proposals. Management and the board have spoken clearly, and our focus is on delivering results for our shareholders, not new, costly distractions that will harm shareholder interests" - PepsiCo rebuffs fresh call from activist investor Nelson Peltz to split.

"Jack Link's mission is to be the number one provider of branded meat snacks throughout the world. This acquisition is a significant step in delivering on that mission. [The] Bifi and Peperami brands continue to drive growth in meat snacks in their respective territories" - Troy Link, Jack Link's CEO, on the group's acquisition of Peperami from Unilever.

"I don't want everyone to imagine that if you have an [input] price increase you transfer it to the consumer... The best way to answer to that is, first of all, you can reduce the promotion. Second, we play the mix and launch new products. We usually try to launch new products with a higher price... Lastly you have the productivity plan. The productivity is never finished. And after that we do the price increase. That is the way we manage the situation," Danone CEO Franck Riboud on the group's strategy for offsetting inflationary pressures.

"We have been dabbling [in China] since 1997. We had a master distributor but who knows Jelly Belly better than us, right? We bit the bullet almost two years ago and said: 'The only way we are going to make this work is set up a subsidiary and handle it ourselves'. Probably within the next two to three years, China is going to be number two or maybe even number one." - Sharon Duncan, vice president of international operations at Jelly Belly upbeat on China growth.

"Consumers at all income levels are looking at 'better for you' products. Freshly made and simple ingredients are becoming primary purchase drivers. We must develop this in our brand renovation plans." - Kraft Foods Group CEO Tony Vernon says the Cheez Whiz maker needs to deliver on health.

"The new products will launch to grow current and anticipated consumer and category trends - such as the growth seen in frozen yoghurt, luxury desserts and handheld formats and the trend towards consuming ice cream as a snack" - Unilever on its NPD offensive in the ice cream category.

"Margin expansion in developed markets will lead the way toward this goal as we restructure our supply chain and target fit-for-purpose overheads. These programmes are fully within our control and are especially critical in a slower growth environment. In the near term, savings from overheads will be the main driver for margin gains and provide the fuel for growth investments." - Mondelez International chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld details supply chain plans at CAGNY.

"Given the progress elsewhere within the group, which we have outlined in our previous updates, it is very disappointing that we find ourselves in the position where a major supplier is, in our view, abusing its dominant market position in the supply of sugar to us. If British Sugar is allowed to impose a price on Napier Brown, its largest customer and the UK's largest reseller of sugar, without any reference to market pricing, the consequent impact on UK customers and consumers would be significant." - Pieter Totté, Real Good Food's executive chairman, hits out at Associated British Sugar's price hike.

"We expect economic factors to continue to weigh on our outlook. Some of the factors affecting our consumers include reductions in government benefits, higher taxes and tighter credit. Further, we have higher group health care costs in the US. These concerns, combined with investments in e-commerce, will make it difficult to achieve the goal we have of growing operating income at the same or faster rate than sales." - Wal-Mart Stores CFO Charles Holley offers downbeat outlook for US sentiment.

"As a socially responsible company, traceable, transparent sourcing of palm oil is important to us, and we are collaborating with our suppliers to make sure the palm oil we use is not associated with deforestation, climate change or the violation of human rights." - Kellogg chief sustainability officer Diane Holdorf as the group committed to sourcing "traceable" palm oil.

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