CHICAGO Senior executives from across the U.S. food industry are attending the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week to talk about the state of the economy and how they are responding to the downturn.
Below are some of the top quotes from the summit's second day:
BRENDA BARNES, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SARA LEE CORP SLE.N
"What retailers want, from what we hear from them, and what I think the consumer wants is value at point of sale. They don't want a lot of fancy promotions. They don't want a lot of double packs. They want a reasonable price point."
WESLEY MOULTRIE, ANALYST, FITCH RATINGS
"When that price gap gets out of whack ... then consumers trade down."
BRIAN WEDDINGTON, ANALYST, MOODY'S INVESTOR SERVICES
"Until the supply side of the equation is normalized, we are going to continue to see stress in the poultry industry."
DAVID WENNER, CEO, B&G FOODS INC (BGS.N)
"There is a perception that high fructose corn syrup is evil and that's changed some behavior. Some manufacturers are taking it out of products. We're taking some out. We've have some push back from natural foods centers."
"One of the misconceptions that I think people have about cost in the food industry is that it is dropping like a rock. It's not."
DAN BASSE, PRESIDENT, AGRESOURCE
"In Argentina, for example, farmers down there are more anxious to hold onto soybeans than pesos. When they need currency they're willing to take a bag of beans and trade it for whatever they need during that particular day or week."
BILL LAPP, PRESIDENT, ADVANCED ECONOMIC SOLUTIONS
"In 2008, we had the year of rising prices at the consumer level for pasta and rice and bread and veg oil in an effort to catch up with the increased costs they faced. In 2009, the key issue that we'll be talking about on food inflation will be higher prices for beef, pork, chicken and dairy products as producers adjust their supply downward in response to extremely negative margins."
DAVID OPPEDAHL, ECONOMIST, CHICAGO FEDERAL RESERVE BANK
"The smaller, rural and ag banks have remained pretty strong throughout this time of financial turmoil. In agriculture, the financial wherewithal is there for a good operator who wants to finance this year."
JOE SANDERSON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, SANDERSON FARMS INC (SAFM.O)
"We do think the value of the dollar versus other currencies is definitely going to affect (chicken) exports and we do think the worldwide economic situation is going to affect them. But we don't think there is going to be a collapse."
MARK PALMQUIST, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, CHS INC (CHSCP.O)
"We have found that food demand, grain demand, oilseed demand tends to be pretty insensitive to what the global economy is doing. It is really driven by demographics. We keep adding mouths to feed."
"The attitude when we're talking with our farmers and our customers is really 2009 is kind of a recalibration year where the whole goal here is just get through here and not make any major mistakes and then come out of this in 2010 and look for better revenue per acre."
MARK SCHILLER, PRESIDENT, PEPSICO INC'S (PEP.N) QUAKER FOODS AND SNACKS DIVISION
"With the success of Starbucks and Jamba Juice, there are a lot of people interested in oatmeal, it's becoming the new black. Oatmeal is in."
"Consumers like getting stuff free, they always have, and in this environment free is a good word."
IVAN MENEZES, HEAD, DIAGEO'S(DGE.L) NORTH AMERICAN REGION
"The consumer shift is toward strong brands with strong credentials and strong heritage."
"We expect the market to stay tough for a while, but we see this as an opportunity to emerge stronger."
JIM BOREL, GROUP VICE PRESIDENT, DUPONT CO (DD.N)
"When you consider the impact to the rest of the economy, agriculture has (had) very little impact in comparison. Fundamentally, food demand is there. People need to eat, so that helps to stabilize things."
VICKI ESCARRA, CEO, FEEDING AMERICA
"We are planning on accelerating the five-year plan by two years. In essence, we plan to get that 1 billion pounds of new food by 2010 just to meet the demand. We don't have a choice."
"We're seeing demand (for services) up across the country north of 30 percent."
(Compiled by Ben Klayman, Jessica Hall and Jessica Wohl)