ConAgra sees snacks as key growth area

by Bakingbusiness Staff
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BOCA RATON, FLA. — While convenient meals and potatoes are its two areas of greatest focus, ConAgra Foods Inc. has identified snacks as its third strategic priority heading into fiscal 2009 and beyond.

In a Feb. 17 presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York Conference in Boca Raton, Andre Hawaux, president of consumer foods, said that while ConAgra’s primary focus in snacks is on popcorn, seeds and meat sticks, the company also has its eye on growing its grain bar and fruit snack business.

"These brands are leaders in their categories, categories that are growing, and we continue to gain share," Mr. Hawaux said. "We believe that snacking is a core and growing part of today’s lifestyle and our snacks provide a platform to expand healthy, better-for-you offerings."

Looking specifically at popcorn, Mr. Hawaux identified Orville Redenbacher as "a power brand" with room for tremendous growth.

"We believe in this economy as people stay home more and movie night becomes a family magnet that brings people together that Orville Redenbacher is well positioned for a strong growth rate, both top and bottom line," he said. "When you think of how healthy popcorn is and that for 75c a bowl you can serve your family, it’s a pretty compelling proposition in this economic environment."

Mr. Hawaux also said ConAgra has some breakthrough snack innovations set to roll out, including under the Alexia brand. ConAgra acquired Alexia Foods, Inc., which makes biscuits, potatoes, bread products and onion rings, in mid-2007.

"We believe the Alexia brand has some very broad shoulders and we believe the brand will play very well in snacks," he said. "The brand stands for premium, great taste, and has an all-natural appeal. It’s made from real vegetables. It has exceptional taste and texture, and it’s healthier than regular chips. As a matter of fact, it’s 25% less fat than regular chips."

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