At the CAGNY analyst conference in Florida this week, two trends seemed to dominate the presentations: rising commodity costs – and manufacturers’ ability to push them through – plus expansion into emerging markets. Here’s the best of what was said at CAGNY:
“As we move into a higher and higher cost environment we realise there is a certain unknown around what consumer reaction will be, not just for the most recent price increase, but for the one that’s probably going to be undertaken in the fall” – Hormel Foods chairman, president and CEO Jeff Ettinger outlines his concerns around increasing commodity prices.
“We have taken into account the macro environment that we see today and continue to see for the next year or two. We wanted to move the algorithm to a place where we were highly confident” – ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin describes the reasoning behind the manufacturer lowering its long-term sales target.
“We make our decisions independent of anyone else based on our elasticity and our ability to offset higher costs with pricing and productivity. We have priced according to those elasticities” – Heinz president, chairman and CEO William Johnson describes the company’s willingness to push through price rises.
“Emerging markets represent the future for ready to eat cereal growth as the number of middle-class consumers increases” – General Mills CEO Ken Powell expects the company’s international operations to drive growth.
“We’re excited about our growth prospects outside of the US and Canada. We are on pace to achieve US$1bn in net sales in our international markets [including Canada] by 2015. And this only requires growth consistent with market growth,” – Hershey COO J.P. Bilbrey on the company’s growth ambitions outside the US.
“In 2011 we are back.” – Kellogg president and CEO John Bryant on the company’s improved outlook for the year.
“We will plan with fresh eyes” – future Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison outlined some of her ideas for the soup manufacturer.
“We strongly believe that experience shows that the closer the senior management of the company is to the market opportunity, the better the company does. As the CEO of Sara Lee, I have to divide my attention to bakery meats and coffee. I am pretty familiar with all but I can’t devote all of my time to a particular business” – Sara Lee CEO Marcel Smits defends the board’s decision to split the company.
“We believe that we need to be able to put meaningfully less leverage on the milk business as a stand-alone entity than on the combined companies because it won’t have the predictable and relatively robust levels of cash-flow from WhiteWave to support it in a spun or separated context – Dean Foods chairman and CEO Gregg Engles describes the barriers behind spinning off its WhiteWave unit.
“Although we cannot rule out the possibility of a transformational acquisition, over the next few years, we’re more likely to complete smaller, enabling acquisitions that provide new capabilities or bolt-on acquisitions that provide additional scale that bring us unique brands” – JM Smucker executive chairman and co-CEO Richard Smucker on the company’s acquisition strategy.
“Normally when you get excited about an acquisition you tick two out of all of those four. We are ticking all four… that is when we use phrases like home run, slam dunk, so yes we are very excited about it” – Zein Abdalla, president of PepsiCo’s European business on its acquisition of Russian dairy Wimm-Bill-Dann