Quote, unquote: the highlights from CAGNY 2012

By Dean Best | 27 February 2012

CAGNY, the annual industry investment conference in the US, was once again full of debate on the challenges and opportunities that the global food sector is confronting and exploiting. Below are some of the key soundbites from the likes of Heinz, General Mills, Kellogg and Kraft Foods.

"We are seeing that across companies, categories and retailers. It's clearly an industry-wide issue that we are all seeing" - ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin said the pressure on US food volumes is being felt across the sector.

"People are managing their expenses and making do with less. As a result overall volume in retail food, including many of the categories we participate in, have declined" - JM Smucker CEO Richard Smucker explains why he thinks volumes have been hit in recent months.

"Frankly, it's clear the industry is starting to confront the reality that the halcyon days of unfettered growth in developed markets is over" - Heinz chairman, president and CEO Bill Johnson says food manufacturers will have to adapt to succeed.

"Long term, we continue to feel very good about the growth potential of our US business as we continue to invest in innovation and marketing. We continue to be positive about the outlook for the US" - Ken Powell, General Mills' chairman and CEO, is upbeat about the company's propsects in its domestic market despite recent weak volumes forcing it into a profit warning.

"One thing is critical that we need that we don't have is a snacking mindset day in, day out. Through the acquisition of Pringles, we bring in an eat, sleep, drink, think about snacks mindset to our business - Paul Norman, president of Kellogg's international operations, believes the acquisition of Pringles will be a "game-changer" for the US cereal giant.

"PepsiCo is the undisputed leader in macro snacks, we are larger than Kraft Foods and also double our next closest competitor [Nestle]. In savoury, we have almost a six times advantage over our closest competitor. But what matters most is growth" - John Compton, CEO of PepsiCo's food operations in the Americas, tells CAGNY the company wants to continue to grow its "macro snacks" business, a sector it leads.

"There is no such thing as a mature brand because great marketing is back at Kraft" - Tony Vernon, president of Kraft Foods' North American unit and the man set to take charge of the grocery business to be created on the continent when the US food giant splits in two later this year, says the company can grow brands in developed markets.

"We will be more efficient and focused on results that matter, results that drive shareholder value" - Archer Daniels Midland chairman and CEO Patricia Woertz explains why the US agribusiness giant is cutting 1,200 jobs.

"I have no doubt that the culture of food is changing" - Campbell Soup Co. president and CEO Denise Morrison argues consumers want more control of their lives and are looking for brands that meet their values.

Sectors: Bakery, Canned food, Cereal, Chilled foods, Commodities & ingredients, Condiments, dressings & sauces, Confectionery, Dairy, Financials, Frozen, NPD & innovation, Private label, Snacks

Companies: Kellogg, Pringles, Heinz, General Mills, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, ConAgra Foods, JM Smucker, Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland, Campbell Soup Co.

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