NEW YORK — Mondelez International chief financial officer Luca Zaramella expects a somewhat “challenging” year ahead in the United States as the snack food giant rolls out product changes that extend more value and lower pricing to consumers.

Planned adjustments to product pack sizes and price points, slated to hit the US market later this year, will play better to price-sensitive US shoppers and ward off aggressive price competition from name-brands and private labels, he said in a chat at the Evercore ISI Consumer & Retail Conference in New York.

“This year in the US, again, we are going to have a little bit of, I would say, a challenging year,” Zaramella told Evercore ISI analyst David Palmer in the June 13 session. “The start to the year was not necessarily as we wanted it to be.

“We talked extensively about the softness of the biscuits market in the US. We are reassured by the fact that we are not losing penetration; the category is not losing penetration. But we’re losing a little bit of frequency as a category, first and foremost, mainly across those cohorts of consumers that are lower-income. I think consumer confidence is somewhat impacted among those (groups), and what we are doing specifically to tackle both the market situation and a little bit the share situation manifests itself through brands like Chips Ahoy! that are more prone to competitive aggressiveness and private label aggressiveness.”

Palmer noted that the United States represents 20% of Mondelez’s business. The company’s US marketing plan is now “fully loaded,” Zaramella said.

“We are going to have a great promotion that is coming up — and I can’t disclose at this point — in the second part of the year, which is going to be materially incremental,” he said. “The second one is we are repositioning slightly some of the price points, given the materiality of pricing that has been taken through the categories, but that was led by us. We moved price points, particularly in the bigger sizes, above $4, and we have to lower to below $4 to really get access to those consumers that are price-sensitive. And then we’re going to hit the market with new packs, particularly at entry-level prices like $3. And so, we will allow consumers to get into a much more stable territory.”

Despite a “temporary slowdown” stemming from shopper price and value concerns, Zaramella described Mondelez’s North American profit-and-loss performance as “really the strongest it has ever been” and noted that the business has “materially moved the needle” in recent years with acquisitions such as Tate’s Bake Shop, Give & Go and Clif Bar.

“I’m really confident that the team has, particularly in the second half, the slate of initiatives that will allow us to reverse most likely some of the softer market trends that you see at this point in time — but importantly to reverse the share losses that are particularly acute, as I said, around Chips Ahoy!,” he said.

Mondelez has been most successful in fine-tuning its price-pack architecture, Zaramella explained, when it gives consumers “the option to go for value and get a great deal on bigger sizes or go for potentially price points, which are very important in a context where consumers feel constrained in terms of the amount of money they have to spend on their grocery, to really opt for our brands and our categories. And I think you’re going to see, going forward, a much more balanced strategy in terms of what price point we are going to cover, particularly in the US.”

He added, “Given the much better supply chain we have these days, we’re going to hit the market with these new packs and price points fairly soon. It will be mostly towards Q4, but we will be available in new shapes and price point forms for our key flagship brands.”