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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Tale of two trends for General Mills

March 18, 2009

Check Out quarterly results at General Mills.hamburger

The maker of Progresso soups, Hamburger Helper and Green Giant frozen vegetables posted a disappointing profit for its fiscal third quarter. Even its slightly higher full-year outlook is below Wall Street’s expectations.

But here’s an interesting twist — the company saw strong sales of cereals, soups, frozen vegetables and refrigerated dough during the quarter, in a continuing trend whereby consumers are eating more meals at home to save some money in the recession. But while that helped sales in the U.S. retail segment, the bakery and food service segment languished, as consumer thrift led to fewer trips to restaurants and cafeterias.

Still, the company is working to capitalize on consumers’ new habits. Later this year, General Mills will unveil new items across categories as it tries to entice shoppers to buy its brands, CEO Ken Powell said in an interview.

* Today’s speakers at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit 2009 include Panera Bread Co-Chief Operating Officer William Moreton, Constellation Brands CEO Robert Sands, and Monsanto executives Brett Begemann and David Stark.

Also in the basket:

China scuttles Coke bid for China juice maker

U.S. rural economy holds fast in recession

Panera Bread has no interest in M&A

(Photo/General Mills website)

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