The Supply Side: ConAgra executives, Kellogg product expansion

• ConAgra chooses new president for Consumer Foods
Tom McGough was recently named president of the Consumer Foods division at ConAgra Foods and succeeds Andre Hawaux, who resigned to join another company in a different industry as chief financial officer, according to a ConAgra release.

“We are very pleased to have Tom in position to take over as leader of our Consumer Foods business,” said Gary Rodkin, CEO, ConAgra Foods. “We have a strong bench, including Tom, who is a 20-year veteran of the branded food business. He has shown strong leadership and results throughout his career, including his six years with us
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“Under André’s leadership, we have built a solid foundation in Consumer Foods, establishing a talent base, deeper pricing rigor, strategic acquisitions, and ongoing cost savings that have provided fuel for brand building. This segment is in a strong position to deliver on the near-term sequential volume improvement goals we have previously communicated, as well as good segment operating profit performance.”

McGough began his packaged foods career at H.J. Heinz in 1990. He joined ConAgra Foods in 2007 and was appointed president, Grocery Products in 2012. He holds an master degree in business from the Duke University.

• Kellogg expands snack line to attract boomers
The Kellogg Co. offered a peek into its product pipeline on Friday May 2, during a conference call with analysts.

To strengthen softer segments, including snacks and cereal, Kellogg is leaning heavily on innovation. While growth in children’s cereals remains solid, adult consumption, particularly that of high-income boomers, is lagging.

“I think the real issue there is our innovation,” said John Bryant, CEO and president. “And the innovation in the category needs (to be) more nutrition- and benefit-oriented and, quite frankly, less about pricing and merchandising.”

Forthcoming products that promise health benefits include Kashi Heart to Heart Chia, Raisin Bran Omega-3 and Special K Multigrain.

Addressing another weakness in the category, Kellogg is redefining ready-to-eat cereal by offering different formats with Kellogg’s Breakfast To Go shakes, Nutri-Grain breakfast biscuits and hot cereal.

Snack sales, too, have slumped in recent periods. While Pringles delivered strong results during the quarter in part with the relaunch of Pringles Stix breadstick snacks, Kellogg’s cracker and cookie businesses declined.

“Though we’re not happy with the recent performance of the snacks business, some of the weakness is due to timing, though core results could be better,” Mr. Bryant said. “The team is working hard, and we have plans for improved innovation and support. The business will likely remain challenging in the first half, but we’re optimistic that results will improve over time.”

Kellogg is unveiling two new crackers, Cheez-It Zings and Town House Pita, and two varieties of Keebler Simply Made cookies, which contain eight ingredients.

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For the quarter ended March 30, the company had net income of $311 million, slumping from $351 million in the same period a year ago.

Sales for the quarter rose 12% to $3.861 million, from $3.440 million during the same quarter of the prior year.

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