September 26, 2003

 

 

ConAgra Moves Away From Fresh Meat

 

ConAgra Foods, the US's second-largest food company and largest food service supplier, was presented to shareholders Thursday, the first time since it sold its fresh beef and pork divisions, and canned seafood and cheese units. It plans to close on the sale of its fresh chicken businesses in the second quarter.

 

Sales have since dropped from $25 billion in 2002 to $19 billion in the last fiscal year. Net income dropped to $775 million from $783 million, while per share earnings dropped 1 cent, to $1.46 from $1.47. It ranks just after Altria Group Inc.'s Kraft Foods, which had $29.7 billion in revenue in 2002.

 

ConAgra Foods has been laying off workers and tightening its distribution network, focusing on packaged and frozen foods, which bring higher profits. The company is looking to extend its reach in the retail grocery sector.

 

Turning their backs on what was once their mainstay - the fresh meat and poultry business - means more focusing to be placed on branded and value-added opportunities, so as to improve ConAgra's manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution. Teams are being set up to study product development and marketing to capitalize on consumer trends and more quickly produce new offerings.