Conagra Foods Essay ConAgra Foods Inc. is one of the largest food companies in the United States operating in such segments as Consumer Foods (66%) and Commercial Foods (34%) which are divided into three significant business operations segments â€“ agricultural products, packaged foods and refrigerated foods (Table 1). Table 1. Net sales (in millions USD) 20102009%increase/decrease Consumer Foods 8,002 7,979-%. Commercial Foods 4,077 4,447(8)% Total12,07912,426(3)% Source: Annual Report 2010 Consumer Foods The Consumer Foods segment includes branded, private label and customized food products, which are sold in various retail and foodservice channels. The products include a variety of categories, such as meals, entrees, condiments, sides, snacks, and desserts across frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable temperature classes. The Companyâ€™s major brands include Alexia, ACT II, Banquet, Blue Bonnet, Chef Boyardee, DAVID, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Huntâ€™s, Marie Callenderâ€™s, Orville Redenbacherâ€™s, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Snack Pack, Swiss Miss, Van Campâ€™s and Wesson. As of July 22, 2010, it had 39 domestic manufacturing facilities in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. As of July 22, 2010, it also had four international manufacturing facilities in Canada and Mexico (one 50% owned) and one in Arroyo Dulce, Argentina. Commercial Foods The Commercial Foods segment supplies frozen potato, sweet potato and other vegetable, spice and grain products to a variety of restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial customers. The products are sold under brands, such as ConAgra Mills, Lamb Weston, and Spicetec Flavors Seasoning. As of July 22, 2010, it had 41 domestic production facilities in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington; one international production facility in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and Qingdao, China; one manufacturing facility in Taber, Canada; one 50% owned manufacturing facility in each of Colorado, Minnesota, Washington and the United Kingdom; one 67% owned manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico, and three 50% owned manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands. Company is mainly engaged in operations in the United States which count for more than 90% of total income (Table 2). ConAgra Foods Inc. owns approximately 50 brands (Table 3). Table 2. Pre-tax income from continuing operations (in millions USD) 201020092008 United States1,040. 3872. 1631. 9 Foreign 66. 6 64. 3 69. 6 Total1,106. 9936. 4701. 5 Source: Annual Report 2010 Vision and mission The vision of the company set by current CEO Gary Rodkin is: â€œOne company. One goal. Making the food you love. â€ It reflects the overall companyâ€™s strategy to make â€œfood people want in their lives every dayâ€. The mission is reflected in companyâ€™s profile: â€œPreparing great food, being a strong partner to our customers and thinking about all of the people who enjoy our food and the difference it makes in their lives fuels our passion: making the food you love. â€ Goals Like every public-held company listed on NYSE (ConAgra Foods Inc. has ticker CAG) ConAgra Foods Inc. aims to increase earnings per share. The goal of the company is to achieve long-term growth through supply chain productivity, operational efficiency, innovation, selling, marketing and sustainability of great brands . Increase in supply chain productivity and operational efficiency lets the company to reduce its manufacturing, finance, administrative, transportation costs. Innovation and marketing orientation enhances the business processes and expands profit margins. Figure 1. Formula for growth Source: Annual Report 2010 ConAgra Foods Inc.operates under three principles while achieving its strategic goal: simplicity, collaboration and accountability. Using their resources rationally, nourishing employees and creating positive image within the community are the objectives which lead the company to be â€œgood for you, good for the community, good for the peopleâ€ . Strategic priorities The company focuses on the following business product groups. In each strategic group ConAgra Foods Inc. possesses significant manufacturing and innovation capabilities. Figure 2. Strategic priorities. Source: Annual Report 2010 Strategy â€œConAgra Foods is focused on growing sales, expanding profit margins, and improving returns on capital over time. To that end, the company has significantly changed its portfolio of businesses over a number of years, focusing on branded, value-added opportunities, while divesting commodity-based and lower-margin businesses. â€ Acquisitions Company was founded in 1919 as Nebraska Consolidated Mills and in 2000 changed its name to ConAgra Foods Inc. Acquisitions are the major part of ConAgraâ€™s strategy. The company implemented horizontal and vertical integration strategy after sustaining solid background in flour-milling operations and feed and poultry segment. The time and the trends in the food industry were crucial to the strategic acquisitions of the company. In 1970-1980s when home and industrial refrigerators became available for the consumers and packing techniques developed , which meant that now meat and vegetables will not spoil, ConAgra entered the frozen foods market with the acquisition of Banquet Foods in 1980 and other companies in the meat and poultry segment (Armour Foods, Beatrice Foods, Hebrew National Foods, etc.). In 1980-1990s when the welfare of American citizens began to improve and people began to value time the food that was easy to cook (which means basically just heat and serve) was highly demanded and ConAgraâ€™s strategic move was highly appreciated by the investors in the stock market. The stock price of CAG tripled from 10$ in 1990 to 30$ in 1998. The total amount of acquired brands approximated 30 by the year 2000 (Huntâ€™s, La Choy, Wesson, ACT II, Chef Boyardee, etc. ) and company changed its name to ConAgra Foods Inc.to reflect its growing role as a food products manufacturer rather than just the food ingredients supplier. In the beginning of the twenty first century and nowadays when the society became more concerned about their health ConAgra Foods Inc. implemented several strategic acquisitions of such companies as Alexia Foods Inc. (natural and organic foods company) in 2007, Elan Nutrition in 2010 and others. The purchases that company makes â€œâ€¦reflect [our] acquisition strategyâ€”find businesses that are great fits and enable [us] to grow by filling a need within [our] portfolio or giving [us] an adjacent category expansionâ€¦. â€ Figure 3. The acquisitions strategy helped ConAgra Foods Inc. to: ConAgra Foods Inc. divests the businesses which are either too complex to integrate with the core businesses or did not achieve a profit margin greater than the benchmark margin rate. In 2009 the company sold Pemmican (beef jerky business), in 2008 it sold â€œKnottâ€™s Berry Farmâ€ operations and others. Mostly, the divestitures are low-margin (commodity-based) businesses. Marketing and distribution Almost every American household has a number of ConAgra Foods brand-named products in their refrigerators. The ability to acquire well-known and customer-loved brands had secured for ConAgra beneficial position. Some of the acquired brands such as Peter Pan and Chef Boyardee had longer history than ConAgra and were so much identifiable in the consumer market that it makes no sense to advance the brand of ConAgra. Even though the company has so many brands in their â€œarsenalâ€ many people donâ€™t know what ConAgra does. And many consumers donâ€™t identify ConAgra as the owner of the brand-named products that they buy. ConAgra is aimed to the better understanding needs of their customers. The health-conscious consumers (whose number is growing) chose nutritious and low-fat food. For increasing nutrition in its products company launched the program on sodium reduction and positions itself as a â€œsafe food manufacturerâ€ . In 2008 the company launched the program online startmakingchoices. com for people who are concerned with the healthy way of life. The website has several tests and tips on how to keep your life healthier. Also company designs packaging with the full information to help consumers improve their diet. â€œTaste, health, nutrition, convenience, sustainability and, of course, value are just some of the issues American shoppers are now faced with every time they go to a supermarket and theyre demanding to know more. â€ For the purpose of better serving its customers and help consumers with their choice ConAgra Foods Inc. launched â€œFood News Todayâ€ with Phil Lempert, a â€œleading consumer trend analyst and Supermarket Guruâ€. ConAgra Foods Inc. aimed to develop and improve their private labeling strategy. One of the most successful brands that company has, Healthy Choice, has retail sales of about 1 billion dollars. This label is licensed to other companies for use on their products. Company announced the Gold Store initiative in 2006, which focuses on driving growth by optimizing in-store conditions in three fundamental areas: distribution, shelving, and placement next to the companion products. As part of a plan ConAgras sales efforts are shifting from a strategy that relied heavily on short-term price discounts and couponing in order to push out sales volume to consumers to a strategy that relies more on ways to draw in consumers. The new strategy hopes to provide a more balanced mix of trade spending, consumer advertising, and product innovation than the company had in the past. Even though ConAgra Foods Inc. owns distribution and transportation businesses like J. M. Swank, most of companyâ€™s transportation equipment, distribution centers and storage facilities are being run by third parties. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and its affiliates, accounted for approximately 18% of consolidated net sales for fiscal 2010 . ConAgra combines hard data from retailers with its own qualitative research. â€œGary Rodkin is on a quest to find what he calls the big, singular insight that will drive behavior change. â€¦. He is using theories about buying habitsbacked by $399 million a year in advertising, marketing and in-store promotionsto convince grocery stores to provide ample shelves for its 45 consumer brandsâ€¦â€¦â€ Leadership. Charles M. Harper The â€œwizardâ€ Charles M. Harper who led the company from 1974 to 1993 is well-known for launching acquisitions strategy and founding Healthy Choice brand. During his tenure at ConAgra, the company expanded its business operations from flour-milling business to frozen foods, poultry, prepared seafood, fertilizers and the sales rose from $636 million in 1974 to $9 billion in 1987. The main reason for making decisions on acquisitions strategy were cyclical profits that company faced in agricultural segment. Mike Harper decided to diversify the company from basic products to packaged goods. His main priority was to acquire companies while they were in their down cycle and he restructured the companies and refocused their marketing strategies. He reintroduced the brands which were highly recognizable by consumers and refocused the product lines. In 1988 Harper boasted that ConAgra was probably the only food products company to participate across the entire food chain. In the early 1990s ConAgra expanded at a rate of about 3-5 acquisitions and joint ventures a year, becoming the leader in the frozen goods industry . During his tenure the P/E ratio of the company was at all times high which means: the price of stock was rising faster than the earnings per share or in other words, the investors were overoptimistic about the future of the company. (Figure 4) Figure 4. P/E ratio of ConAgra Foods Inc. Bruce Rhode In 1998 Bruce Rhode was named a CEO of ConAgra and his first steps were to reduce costs by large amount. He instituted Operation Overdrive restructuring program, closing several production plants and storage facilities and cutting the workforce by seven thousand employees. The estimated savings from Operation Overdrive were approximately $600 million a year . The other problem that Bruce Rhode faced was strong decentralization of the company. Some of the food-processing and meat-packing companies, which operated under one brand name of ConAgra, purchased the products from the competitors rather than other ConAgraâ€™s branches. The same uncoordinated actions were in marketing when â€œrepresentatives from several ConAgra divisions, all selling similar products, visited the same restaurants and groceriesâ€. Bruce Rhode emphasized team-approach to solve these problems. At the beginning of 2000s many retail grocery stores would like to promote their own brands in foods processing and packaging segment and that was another problem for Bruce Rhode to solve. He concentrated on product development and marketing, working closely with grocery stores to create displays of ConAgra products. Bruce Rhode continued acquisitions strategy of his predecessors acquiring more brand names in packaged food segment (International Home Foods in 2000) to increase gross sales of the company and he divided company into ten principal operating units: ConAgra Foodservice Company; ConAgra Grocery Products Companies; ConAgra Frozen Prepared Foods; ConAgra Dairy Case Companies; ConAgra Refrigerated Prepared Foods; ConAgra Meat Companies; ConAgra Poultry Company; ConAgra Food Ingredients; United Agri Products Companies; ConAgra Trade Group. The early years of his tenure coincided with the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998 when the investors were cautious about the US domestic markets and the stock price fell significantly (Figure 4). Figure 4. Daily stock prices for ConAgra Foods, Inc. (CAG) since 1978 to 2010. Source: google. com/finance Gary Rodkin Gary Rodkin, the former CEO of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods of North America division, replaced Bruce Rhode as CEO of ConAgra Foods Inc. in 2005 and began reorganization trying to create one centralized consolidated company that consists of more than 500 subdivisions. As a result of refocusing its portfolio of businesses ConAgra Foods Inc. divested Butterball, Armour, Eckrich and others. Gary Rodkin, while continuing acquisitions strategy, transformed the company into a â€œmore unified operating companyâ€ . With the changes of the new CEO many analysts were concerned that he would try to create ConAgra brand instead of coordinating many different brands. However, during his interview to SmartMoney (Wall Street Journal) in 2010 he said: â€œâ€¦. There is no product named ConAgra. So instead, we say, consumers make the brands relevant. We do need investors to better understand this company. But on the consumer side, we really donâ€™t think the juice is worth the squeeze. â€ Performance Internal organization ConAgra Foods Inc. operates in a low-margin industry thus effectively managing its costs is the priority in achieving strategic competitiveness (Figure 6). Focusing on cost reduction the company could save 1. 1 billion USD through supply chain rationalization initiatives, the relocation of a divisional headquarters from Irvine, California to Naperville, Illinois, the centralization of shared services, salaried headcount reductions and other cost-reduction initiatives . Figure 6. Heres how the $4. 19 you pay for a frozen dinner like one from Healthy Choice breaks down. ConAgra makes 55 cents. Source: Forbes. com . Shopping Cart Psychology by Helen Coster. 08. 19. 09 For the fiscal 2010 year ConAgra Foods Inc. announced net sales of 12,079 million USD with the operating profit of 1,652 USD (Table 4). Table 4. Financial Highlights for the fiscal 2010 year Source: Annual Report 2010 â€œâ€¦.. Heightened competition, weak demand and inflation hampered food processor ConAgras fiscal first quarter, leading it to cut its outlook, though the maker of Healthy Choice and Orville Redenbachers brand foods increased its dividendâ€¦.. â€ . The company also decreased its earnings per share outlook from 8-10% growth to 5-7%. External environment ConAgra Foods Inc. is focused on value-added brand companies and private labeling in the food industry where it competes with such giants as Kraft Foods, Heinz, Nestle, etc. â€œâ€¦.. We experience intense competition for sales of our principal products in our major markets. Our products compete with widely advertised, well-known, branded products, as well as private label and customized products. Some of our competitors are larger and have greater resources than we have. We compete primarily on the basis of quality, value, customer service, brand recognition, and brand loyaltyâ€¦â€¦. â€ From the next figure it can be inferred that even though ConAgra Foods, Inc. operates better than overall US industries, it still underperforms the leading companies in food sector. Figure 5. 10-year comparison of ConAgra Foods Inc. , SP 500, SP 500 Packaged Foods Index. Source: Annual Report 2010 In the Processed and Packaged Goods industry companies operate under very narrow margins (Figure 6) and for that reason severe price competition after the financial crisis influences heavily the profits of ConAgra Foods Inc. Also, the retailers implement backward integration strategy and take away profits from famous brand companies since the consumers are losing interest in the brand-named products. Even though the there are some good news about the industry that the consumers are very conscious about the money and they eat-out less than before the crisis the competition in the industry makes it difficult for analysts to predict bright future for the food companies. In the Figure we can see that the general projections for the industry are either â€œbuyâ€ or â€œholdâ€ rather than â€œstrong buyâ€. Figure 7. Analysts recommendation about the industry and ConAgra Foods Inc. Source: wikinvest. com Zacks Investment Research, November 24, 2010. Bibliographies 1. Amanda Quick, â€œCompany profiles for studentsâ€, (Thomson Gale, 1999) 2. bigcharts. com 3. ConAgra Foods Inc. Annual Report 2010 4. ConAgra Foods Inc. Corporate Responsibility Report 2010 5. conagrafoods. com 6. forbes. com 7. google. com/finance 8. http://www. hbs. edu 9. referenceforbusiness. com 10. wikinvest. com 11. wsj. com.
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