At the beginning of every year, analysts gather in New York to hear presentations from leading consumer packaged goods companies about the status of their operations. These conferences also provide in-depth looks at future new product introductions.
Baking Management covered three of these analyst conferences:
- Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga., at the Stephens Inc. 2006 Consumer Conference
- Sara Lee Corp., Downers Grove, Ill., at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York's (CAGNY) annual conference
- Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., at the CAGNY annual conference.
Flowers Foods to build innovation center
In an effort to boost its new product innovations, Flowers Foods announced plans to build an innovation center in Thomasville, Ga. The center will house the company's research and development and marketing departments, which "will certainly put our company in the forefront of coming out with new products for today's consumers," said George Deese, Flowers Foods' chairman and chief executive officer.
Not that the company needs any help staying on top of consumer trends. Flowers Foods has consistently led the baking industry in new product innovations, including whole grains and white wheat. The company's Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat has been on the market for 30 years and the company's Nature's Own Whitewheat was launched in 1991.
In addition to announcing its research and development initiatives, Flowers Foods also updated analysts on its manufacturing network. The company operates 36 bakeries and continues to add production capacity to support sales growth and expanded direct-store-delivery accounts.
Sara Lee continues whole grain growth platform
Sara Lee Corp. used its presentation to enforce the strength of its fresh bakery foods business, especially two recent product introductions. The company's Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White bread continues to record impressive numbers, with sales moving to more than $2 million a week. This product launch, the company says, also helped the company drive its leading share of the fresh bakery foods category to 5.7%.
And, Sara Lee was not the only one touting its new product. Business Week magazine named the Soft & Smooth product one of the "Best New Products of 2005," placing the loaf of bread on the same platform as the iPod.
Sara Lee also extolled the recent launch of its whole grain breakfast breads. In two months, the company says the breads already have achieved a 9% market share in the $200 million breakfast bread category. The company also heralded its entry into the English muffin category.
Kraft continues health, wellness transformation
Roger Deromedi, Kraft Foods Inc.'s chief executive officer, used his presentation to reinforce the company's plans to shift its portfolio to health and wellness products. The values of this strategy were exhibited through the impressive sales of the company's South Beach Diet products, and whole grain cookie and cracker products.
The company's line of South Beach Diet branded products recorded $170 million in sales in the 10 months since the brand's launch. The company's whole grain cookie and cracker offerings also continue to record impressive numbers, accounting for 2005 revenue in excess of $270 million. The company's Triscuit brand showed the most impressive growth, increasing revenues by 17%.