ConAgra Foods, the US food giant, today (17 February) maintained its annual earnings forecast and revealed plans to shake up its frozen foods business.

The company said it expects fiscal 2009 earnings per share of "slightly above" $1.50. ConAgra said it expects more earnings to be generated during the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year than the third quarter.

For fiscal 2010, ConAgra, which makes consumer food brands including Banquet frozen foods and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, said it expects EPS growth above the 2009 level.

ConAgra said operating profits from its consumer foods business would grow in 2010 as input costs ease and the company starts to see benefits from a range of products launched to appeal to "value-conscious consumers".

Among a series of product launches designed to cater for cash-strapped US consumers, ConAgra CEO Gary Rodkin today told an analyst conference in Florida that the company would introduce a range of frozen meals under the Banquet brand for $1.

ConAgra has earmarked an overhaul of its frozen foods stable to boost the performance of its consumer foods business.

The company is also planning to bring in new packaging for its Healthy Choice brand, as well as introducing a range of meatless entrées.

Rodkin said the series of launches would help ConAgra target ever-cautious US consumers.

"The transformation we are putting together on frozen food is a huge deal," Rodkin told analysts at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) conference. "A larger group of people are looking for the value story and that is the Banquet story."