On the call: Bill Johnson CEO

AP News
Posted: Nov 24, 2009 12:45 PM

H.J. Heinz Co., like many food makers, has struggled during the recession with increased competition from lower-priced store brands.

The company said in-store brands, known as private-label products, are starting to lose popularity, and CEO Bill Johnson discussed the issue Tuesday in a conference call with investors.

QUESTION: Would you say the pressure on Heinz has been more from private-label or more from these second- and third-tier brands that are keeping price points low for that so-called thriftier consumer?

RESPONSE: Depends on the category.... Certainly in potatoes, where we've had, you know, slower volume in the second quarter. In ketchup, it's a combination of second-tier brands and private-label. In Smart Ones, it's all brands.