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Jobs a Big Concern for Food Makers: ConAgra CEO

CNBC.com
Thursday, 14 Oct 2010 | 5:51 PM ET

Rising commodity prices and lingering consumer uncertainty have been eating away at food companies' margins, and until consumers bounce back, food makers will continue to feel the drag on retail pricing, ConAgra Foods Chief Executive Gary Rodkin told CNBC on Thursday.

ConAgra CEO on Food Price War
Food makers have been hammered by pricing pressure and rising commodity prices, and the latest federal forecasts show it's not going to let up anytime soon. Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods, shares his insight.

In addition to regulatory and commodity price pressures, ConAgra has been hit hard by the budget-conscious buyers as supermarkets continue to slash prices across their shelves.

"The primary issue is truly jobs," Rodkin said, "being able to see enough demand ... and getting a higher degree of certainty ... from the consumer so they feel confident to open up their purse strings a little more. "

In the meantime, growth will need to come from innovation, marketing, and showing consumers the "inherent value" of products—from health-focused brands to quality selections.

ConAgra shares gained a fraction on Thursday. The stock has lost more than 10 percent in the past six months.

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