Gary E. Costley, chairman, president and chief executive officer of International Multifoods Corp., told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting today at the Boatworks Event Center that the company has the focused growth strategies to help it benefit from demographic trends, such as the rise in dual-income households and the aging of the population, which are fueling growth in eating away from home.

“Americans are eating out or taking out more and more every year. In fact, within a few years, more money will be spent on food prepared away from home than home-cooked food. With our strategic focus on businesses that manufacture for and distribute to the foodservice industry, we’re well positioned to grow along with that trend,” said Costley. “What’s more, a tight labor market is forcing foodservice providers to look to companies like us for creative ways to save labor during food preparation.”

Costley also spoke of the company’s emphasis on operational excellence, outlining the company’s five key operating priorities for fiscal 2001:

  • Improve Multifoods Distribution Group’s operating margins through initiatives, including increased training, improved warehouse processes, reduction of employee turnover rates, and centralization of foodservice merchandising and procurement to improve service and lower costs;
  • Maximize revenue growth through a relentless focus on successfully executing our key growth strategies;
  • Enhance organizational effectiveness to realize the company’s ultimate goal of increased profitability and performance;
  • Improve capital management to free up cash and reduce interest costs;
  • Accelerate the implementation of e-business strategies, such as making the Web a vital part of day-to-day customer interactions in our distribution business and improving manufacturing supply-chain efficiencies through e-procurement.

    Costley also expressed confidence in the company’s ability to meet its financial objectives, which include delivering a $7 million annualized improvement in Economic Value Added (EVA) and growing earnings per share 15 percent a year over the next three years.

    In balloting, at least 98 percent of the shares represented at the meeting voted to re-elect each of the following board members to three-year terms: Gary E. Costley, International Multifoods chairman, president and chief executive officer; Nicholas L. Reding, former vice chairman, Monsanto Co. (now a unit of Pharmacia Corp.); and Jack D. Rehm, former chairman, Meredith Corp. In addition, 99 percent of the shares represented approved the appointment of KPMG as the company’s independent auditors for the fiscal year ending March 3, 2001.

    The company’s board of directors today approved a regular quarterly dividend of 20 cents per common share, payable July 17, 2000, to shareholders of record at the close of business June 28, 2000.

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    International Multifoods is strategically focused on serving the foodservice industry in North America as a distributor and a manufacturer. The company also is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods in Canada.

    This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations or beliefs, including, but not limited to, statements concerning the company’s operations and financial performance and condition. For this purpose, statements that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. The company cautions that these statements by their nature involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially depending on a variety of important factors, including, among others, the impact of competitive products and pricing; market or weather conditions that may affect the costs of grain, cheese, other raw materials and fuel; changes in laws and regulations; fluctuations in interest rates; the company’s ability to realize the book value of its remaining Venezuelan assets; fluctuations in foreign exchange rates; the company’s ability to reduce delivery and distribution costs, and realize the earnings benefits from the distribution group’s consolidation and expansion plans ;risks commonly encountered in international trade; and other factors as may be discussed in the company’s Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Feb. 29, 2000, and other reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.