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By Erin Lash, CFA | 11-06-2009 02:10 PM

Making the Brand

General Mills CEO Ken Powell on managing strong brands amid private label competition, consumer trade-downs, and commodity inflation.

Securities mentioned in this video
GIS General Mills Inc

Erin Swanson: Hi. My name is Erin Swanson. I am the consumer products Analyst here at Morningstar. In the packaged foods space, General Mills is one of the firms that we believe really stands out. And as part of our Morningstar Stocks Forum, we are pleased to welcome Chairman and CEO of General Mills, Ken Powell, to speak to us today about consumer trends and what is going on in the competitive landscape within the packaged foods space.

Thank you for joining us, Ken.

Ken Powell: Thank you for having us. Appreciate it.

Swanson: One of the topics I would like to talk about today is private label offerings. Obviously, private label offerings have been gaining share over the past couple of quarters within the food and beverage space. How have you guys dealt with this heightened demand, and what have you seen from a competitive standpoint?

Powell: Well first of all, Erin, I want to point out that, in aggregate, our brands have gained share over the last year as we have gone through this recession, even as private label brands have also gained share. And the reason we have gained share is because we have invested so much in innovation, in brand building, terrific new products, and refreshed traditional products.

And so, I think that is the lesson, and we see this around the world. Top brands like our brands, Cheerios, Fiber One, Progresso, Yoplait, top brands that are kept fresh and that innovate, prosper really in any kind of environment.

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