A raft of earnings results kept the just-food news desk busy this week. M&S chief executive Marc Bolland insisted its product development sets it apart from rival grocers, while Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison expressed her disappointment at the firm’s US soup performance this year. Elsewhere, just-food spoke with Peter Lauritzen, CEO of Arla UK, and Neil Kennedy, chief executive of Milk Link, on the merits of their merger.

“We had a difficult fiscal 2012 and frankly we are still wrestling with weak consumer metrics and shares” – Heinz CEO William Johnson acknowledges the “challenges” the company faced during the year

“I am not happy with our US soup performance this quarter, I know we can do better” – Campbell CEO Denise Morrison expresses her dissatisfaction with the company’s US soup performance in the quarter

“Everybody that was selling milk last year had a tough time. Actually, what that has made us do is hold a mirror up to ourselves and have a real look at not just what we are doing, but the speed in which we were doing it” – Dairy Crest CEO Mark Allen believes last year was a “very difficult time”, not just for Dairy Crest but for the industry as a whole

“We are falling short not because our UK stores aren’t performing well. Our stores are showing growth but the economy is not allowing us to grow much faster. This brings realism into the numbers” – M&S chief executive Marc Bolland points to the worsening conditions in the UK economy since November 2010 

“The 172 store estate has nearly all been modernised through the ‘Extra’ upgrades and, like the painting of the Forth Bridge, the process of development continues” – Shore Capital analysts suggest Booker‘s initiatives last year have left it well-positioned to grow both profits and earnings over the coming year

“Keeping production costs down is a prerequisite. Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for products of the same quality, so you’ve got to be efficient. But I think you also have to innovate and differentiate” – Neil Kennedy, chief executive of Milk Link on the benefits of its merge with Arla UK

“How are we going to transform diets here so that there is space for that expansion? My sense is that it’s not going to come down primarily to choices” –  David Norman, director of campaigns at the WWF speaking at a Food and Drink Federation industry event this week

“NPD is the lifeblood of any business and it is our aspiration that innovation will drive at least 50% of the growth of the business going forward” – A spokesperson for Cranswick says the conmpany aims to use innovation to continue to drive the business going forward

“We didn’t have anything in the portfolio that appealed to the value conscious consumer like an Aldi, Save-A-Lot or in some degree a Dollar Store in that regard” – Spartan Stores CEO Dennis Eidson said its pilot Valu Land outlets were developed in response to increasing demand for value from consumers

“He considered that all the required conditions were met to shorten the transition period” – Carrefour explains the reason for Georges Plassat taking over the CEO role from Lars Olofsson early