A swathe of results releases this week highlighted the ongoing difficulties of operating in the current economic climate. SuperValu announced that it is cutting 2,500 jobs from its Albertsons chain and McCain said that it is quitting pizza production in the UK. However, both sides of the Atlantic, Ahold and JM Smucker suggested that – while price remains foremost in consumers’ minds – things could be looking a little more positive as the year progresses.
“We had a slow start to the year. It was mainly affected by the unfavourable timing of Easter compared to last year. We continue also to see quite cautious consumer spending in both markets and increased levels of competition… During the quarter – mainly the second half – we saw a slight improvement in the sales, which continued into the second quarter on both sides of the ocean. You could say that as a business we were able to ingest the circumstances that we are in” – Ahold CEO Dick Boer suggests the retailer is weathering difficult economic conditions.
“The information regarding JBS in the report is false, misleading, incorrect and induces the public to draw erroneous conclusions regarding the reality of the facts. Due to this, the company will legally challenge Greenpeace and will use all available legal channels to repair the material damage caused to the image of the company through the disclosure of this incorrect information” – JBS refutes Greenpeace allegations that it buys beef from suppliers involved in illegal deforestation and slave labour
“Disney‘s announcement is welcome news to parents and health experts concerned about childhood obesity and nutrition. This puts Disney ahead of the pack of media outlets and should be a wake-up call to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to do the same. As a nation, all companies should be working toward promoting only healthy food through all forms of child-directed media” – Centre for Science in the Public Interest nutrition policy director Margo Wootan on Disney’s introduction of nutritional guidelines for advertisers
“We envision making Hillshire Brands the most innovative meat-centric food company in the US” – Sean Connolly, chief executive officer of Sara Lee’s North American retail and foodservice business, on the group’s vision for Sara Lee’s North American meat business after it is spun-off from European businesses
“A decision of this nature is never easy, but it is the necessary step for us to take to help improve our business and accelerate our turnaround. Our goal is to more effectively serve the marketplace by scheduling associates more appropriately to serve customers at the times they shop. I am confident our team will embrace these changes and help us to compete more effectively in a rapidly changing marketplace” – Dan Sanders, president of Albertsons’ southern California division on Supervalu’s plans to cut 2,500 jobs
“Despite best endeavours to grow our pizza business over recent years, we continue to experience declining volumes and demand in an increasingly competitive market place. As a result of this trend, the in-house manufacture of pizza is no longer financially viable and as such we propose, subject to consultation, to withdraw from in-house pizza production” – McCain manufacturing director Alan Bridges told just-food on the group’s move to stop manufacturing pizza in the UK
“At this stage, bakery is part of Saputo‘s entities. There have been some incredible initiatives over the course of the last two to three years that have allowed that division to at least keep its head above water. There are initiatives for this fiscal year that will allow us to penetrate the US market and drive more volumes through that division. For the time being, our focus is to continue to improve that division and it’s not for sale” – Saputo CEO and vice chairman Lino Saputo Jr insists the company is committed to its bakery operations
“We have, as an industry, to do it [cut prices] responsibly. We have several categories where we can reduce our size and therefore offer better value to the consumer without hurting our margins. We will be sharpening our pencil around the holiday periods… We don’t see it as a race to the bottom. We all learned our lesson a few years ago and recognise that although volume is important so are margins” – JM Smucker CEO Richard Smucker on the group’s plans to “sharpen” its price positioning
“This acquisition is an attractive proposition for our packaged foods business to enter and scale up in another large and attractive packaged foods category in Nigeria. We believe that Olam, combined with the assets and capabilities of Kayass, will be competitive in offering differentiated products based on our best practices in manufacturing, global sourcing, product development and innovation, branding and marketing” – Olam International SVP and head of packaged foods, M Ramanarayanan, emphasises the strategic benefits of the company’s acquisition of Kayass
“Moving forward we will continue to engage customers in sustainable consumption. We remain as committed to Plan A as we have ever been. It is an essential part of our DNA and fundamental to our plans to become an international, multi-channel retailer” – Marks and Spencer CEO Marc Bolland on the news that the company has become “carbon neutral”