Big Food Companies Seek New Strategies for Growth

After two years of declining sales and an uncertain future, leaders of the biggest food and beverage companies must be questioning their relevance in an era of unprecedented change.

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These are tough times to run a huge, age-old business. Just ask Sears or JC Penney, Radio Shack or Kodak. Or Conagra and many other big-name food and beverage companies. One by one, the CEOs and CFOs of 15 of the largest food and beverage companies told financial analysts in February to expect a year of lower sales but potentially higher profits, the latter thanks to aggressive cost-cutting. While it worked last year and may work again this year, lower sales plus cost-cutting is not a formula for long-term success. Six weeks later and half a world away, Ulf Mark Schneider, Nestle SA’s CEO of just three months, called that approach self-defeating. “Many companies are…

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