Blog: Dean BestThe 2010 results frenzy starts in earnest

Dean Best | 3 February 2011

The last 24 hours have heralded the start of the reporting season for annual results from the world's major food manufacturers.

Hershey, Unilever and Kellogg have issued their figures for the fourth quarter of 2010 - and for the year as a whole - and, as ever, beyond the numbers there is some insight of interest to the entire industry.

Hershey's shares closed up on the back of higher annual profits, accelerating sales in the fourth quarter of the year and a confident outlook on the year ahead.

But, aside from the pressure on commodity costs, the US confectioner has much to ponder in 2011 - particularly its international strategy.

At Unilever, despite robust annual profits and quickening sales in the fourth quarter, some analysts were concerned about the impact input costs were having on the group's margins.

However, speaking to just-food, Michael Polk, president of Unilever's food, home and personal care operations, said the group had developed a "real capability" in handling commodity volatility and achieving price increases. A "lot had changed" at the company since 2008, the year of the last commodity spike.

And, at Kellogg, after a challenging 2010 for the business, new president and CEO John Bryant looked ahead to 2011 with confidence, citing the company's plans for innovation. He did, however, have a note of caution for trading in Europe.


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