Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Audio – Pizza around the world!

travis1.jpgIn the United States, we tend to think that the whole world shares our lifelong love of all things dealing with pizza.

It’s just not the case, though. There are actually parts of this globe where a “large, extra-cheese, half-pepperoni” order would be greeted by the emptiest of stares.

But for Papa John’s Chief Executive Nigel Travis, spreading the gospel of pizza is one of his clearest everyday expectations.

Travis, speaking at the second day of the Reuters Food Summit, said that Papa John’s has invested heavily in its international expansion and has its eye on many key markets as it fights for market share with other, larger players, Domino’s and Pizza Hut.

Audio – Chicken and oil

sanderson1.jpgNo, it’s not a new recipe (although fried chicken is always a welcome addition to almost any event we’ve ever attended).

As prices for commodities and other ingredients have been much on the minds of most of the guests this week at the Reuters Food Summit, chicken and prepared foods producer Sanderson Farms said pricing of chicken was something that was very clear for investors and suppliers alike.

Audio – Nuts about nuts

mendes1.jpgWell, he seemed pretty calm, actually!

Michael Mendes, chief executive of Diamond Foods, maker of Emerald Nuts, said at the Reuters Food Summit on Monday that demand for the company’s many different nut products remain strong and gave an optimistic outlook on the future.

But Mendes also warned that commodity costs remain high and companies are looking to keep costs in check across their offering.

Audio – Re-establishing Starbucks’ cool

goldin.jpgIt’s been some time since Starbucks was considered cool.

There was a time, to be sure, when the coffee retailer’s cool, new shops were actually cool and new. It was Seattle — and all things Northwest — were hot. Coffee was being consumed by the gallon. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were just building their angst-ridden, flannel-clad fan bases.

But now, a lot of that has changed and Bob Goldin, executive vice president at food industry consultant Technomic Inc, said at the Reuters Food Summit that the company needs to get some of that cool back in order to right its ship.

Audio – Pricing power key for ConAgra

rodkin1.jpgIf ConAgra Foods Inc is planning on making its numbers for the rest of this fiscal year, it’s going to have to do it by passing on cost increases to its customes.

ConAgra makes a slew of products — everything from Chef Boyardee prepared foods to Jiffy Pop popcorn  to Pam cooking spray – and most of the stuff that goes into the products they make cost more now than they did a year ago.

Audio – Coke hints at valve replacement

scott-young-coke.jpgCoca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft drink company, has been bringing out so many new flavors that it may revamp its equipment to make sure consumers get a chance to taste them at their favorite restaurants and other spots.

Scott Young, a Coke food service division executive, spoke about those plans at the Reuters Food Summit in Chicago.

Audio – Shaking up those Smokey Bones

madsen.jpgDarden Restaurants Inc., which runs restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, is looking at ways to change one of its smaller chains.

President and COO Drew Madsen, speaking at the Reuters Food Summit on Tuesday, said that Smokey Bones has not been meeting its expectations and that several of the restaurants may be replaced with a new concept, Rocky River Grillhouse.

Audio – Doing what comes ‘naturally’

Jeff EttingerHormel, which is probably best known for its Spam luncheon meat, is taking a close look at how to reach out to consumers looking for natural foods.  But Chief Executive Jeff Ettinger told the Reuters Food Summit on Tuesday that there are higher costs and problems to make organic products.

He talked about the company’s Natural Choice products, which are sold at traditional grocery stores and the potential for organic products, as well as USDA labeling changes. 

Change is good

schmick1.jpgRising prices for commodities ranging from corn to energy have forced food and restaurant companies to try to squeeze through the occassional price increase to cover costs.

But for restaurant chain operator McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, price changes occur not over a period of weeks and months, but over a period of hours.

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