The ongoing strategic trend of companies maintaining a tight focus is evident in two of the largest transactions currently under way in grain-based foods — the sale of the wholesale baking business of Sara Lee Corp. and the spin-off of the Post cereal business by Ralcorp Holdings.
Still, these moves away from diversification are not universal. A highly successful exception received attention in recent days when Patrick J. Callaghan, president of the Pepperidge Farm division of Campbell Soup Co., spoke at an investor meeting. The gathering was headlined by Campbell’s incoming chief executive officer, Denise Morrison, but Mr. Callaghan made a powerful case for the track record and prospects for Pepperidge. He said Pepperidge has enjoyed steady growth in recent years as the baking unit has “continually outpace(d) our categories across each of our businesses.”
Offering the secrets to this success, Mr. Callaghan highlighted the company’s beloved brands, its strong network of manufacturing facilities and its direct-store delivery system. Still, rising above all other factors he emphasized is the role innovation has played in fueling growth. The constant refreshing of the Pepperidge Goldfish cracker brand and its line of premium cookies were offered as examples contributing to the track record of success.
Looking ahead, though, Mr. Callaghan identified the company’s new Goldfish sandwich bread as his “favorite innovation of all, one every mom of young children is destined to love.” The last several years have been among the most fertile ever when it comes to innovation by the baking industry that resonates with consumers. Mr. Callaghan’s remarks and the new Goldfish bread introduction offer further reason to believe this trend will persist as a cornerstone of the industry’s future progress.