This week, UK retail took centre stage when just-food attended an event organised by the British Retail Consortium in London. Highlights from the conference included Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy’s suggestion that retailers and suppliers need to start planning for the recovery as UK consumer confidence returns. General Mills, a company on the up-and-up, did not echo this upbeat economic assessment. Speaking at an investor meeting in Paris, president and CEO Ken Powell emphasised that General Mills was “doing well” despite the fact that we are currently experiencing “a time of great economic uncertainty around the world”. Meanwhile, ConAgra Foods was struck by disaster, when an explosion at a production facility left three dead. These are the top ten stories on just-food this week.

UK: Tesco boss sees confidence returning
Retailers and suppliers need to start planning for the recovery now with signs that consumer confidence in the UK is starting to return, Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said today (11 June).

UK: Unilever cuts Walls promotional activity
Unilever has said that it will reduce in-store promotional activity for its Walls ice cream brand after problems at its distribution centre disrupted supply.

INDIA: Danone “preparing to enter” Indian food sector – report
Indian reports have speculated that French dairy giant Danone is gearing up to re-enter the Indian food sector after selling its stake in Britannia, its JV with the Wadias Group, earlier this year.

GERMANY: Rewe claims “record” 2008 earnings
REWE Group, the Germany-based retail giant, today (9 June) claimed “record” annual profits after seeing sales jumped by more than 10%.

BELGIUM: Alpro sale could be sealed “in two weeks”
A sale of soy foods business Alpro could be agreed in two weeks, according to an investor in parent company Vandemoortele, the Belgian food group.

US: ConAgra plant blast leaves two dead
Two employees have been found dead at a ConAgra Foods processing plant in North Carolina following an explosion at the facility on Tuesday (9 June).

US: Three dead at ConAgra plant blast
ConAgra Foods has confirmed that three employees have now been found dead at its North Carolina processing plant following an explosion at the facility on Tuesday (9 June).

US/EU: Heinz “realigns” leadership in management shuffle
Heinz has announced a leadership “realignment” that, it said, is part of the company’s “ongoing development process” to “broaden the capabilities and skills” of its executive leadership team.

In the Spotlight – General Mills
Despite the current tough operating environment, General Mills is delivering strong results and, earlier this week, the US cereal maker upped its full-year earnings guidance.

US: Procter & Gamble COO McDonald takes CEO job
Consumer goods giant and Pringles owner Procter & Gamble has named COO Bob McDonald as president and CEO.