Not for all the tea in China

March 17, 2009

Sara Lee Chief Executive Brenda Barnes is looking to expand the reach of the food maker.    But one thing she isn’t looking to do is sell tea in China.

Geographic expansion is a key strategy for the company through its coffee, tea and household products brands, she said at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit. However, business in Western Europe has suffered over the past eight months from recession. 

Sara Lee has a good household and body care business in the few hundred overseas markets in which it competes, but not in the world’s largest market.

“We don’t have any plans to go into China. It’s such a huge, enormous market that requires an enormous amount of investment and in the near term we believe that our investment is better applied to markets where we have a footprint.”

“Unless you acquired your way in, and if you look at the acquisitions in China they’re all quite pricey and it would be difficult to have them pay off in any near term.”

Barnes has nothing against that market, however. After all, when asked later to identify her favorite food, she replied,  “I’m a big fan of Asian food.”

(Reuters photo)

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