Boulder Brands addressing challenges in spreads, milk

by Eric Schroeder
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BOULDER, COLO. — Although its focus is squarely on strengthening its position in the gluten-free market, two other priorities for Boulder Brands, Inc. are strategically stabilizing its spreads business and driving milk to profitability, said Stephen Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer.

In a May 2 conference call with financial analysts to discuss first-quarter results, Mr. Hughes said the company continues on a path to stabilizing its spreads business, a process that began in 2012 with the company’s discontinuation of the Best Life and Butter Blends.

“These categories were not strategic to our premium product positioning,” he said.

Also in 2012, Boulder Brands introduced spreadable butter that is now a pillar to the company’s premium spreads and butters strategy along with Earth Balance and Smart Balance. Boulder also has moved beyond butter to gain traction with the Earth Balance brand in conventional grocery categories, including nut butters, culinary spreads and snacks.

In milk, Mr. Hughes said Boulder Brands is rationalizing to improve overall profitability, with a goal to break even in the category by the end of 2013. As he sees it, Boulder Brands has three options on milk.

“The first is to rationalize it back to those core geographies where we make money and focus on that,” Mr. Hughes explained. “Second is to license to, likely, one of our co-pack partners who is serving those markets. Third is to exit. One of the reasons why we’re making that decision, we think in the next 30 to 45 days, one of those three, is because we’re really looking at the range of high-quality, low-hanging fruit opportunities on organic growth across our portfolio, and we’re wrestling a little bit with the bandwidth issue and really; should we stay in it or exit it? And we’re going to decide that here in the next 30 to 45 days. I think what everybody should take away from that is that we’ll be break-even or better in 2014 and likely have news, if not before, at the second-quarter earnings call on what we’re going to finally do in milk.”

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