Food Industry CEOs Talk Costs & Inflation

Natalie Erlich,|News Associate

As food prices surge, America’s supermarkets are also feeling the pain. While consumer food prices are up five percent, wholesale prices have soared a whopping 20 percent.

CNBC talked to the chief executives of General Mills and SuperValu to get their takes on food costs, inflation and the economy.

On the Front Lines: General Mills

General Mills CEO on Absorbing Costs

“We’re focused so hard on productivity, we’re working so hard to absorb some of these increases, that means we can pass on less, we have less to cover with price increases … There are literally thousands of things that we do at General Mills to try to elim inate waste. You know, we used to put 20 different versions of snack pieces in our Chex mix, different sizes and different shapes. Consumers don’t need that. They’re happy with five different shapes. We used to buy ten different blends of margarine and oils for some of our products. Now we buy four different blends and we just figured out a way to do all of this much more efficiently.”

- Kendall Powell, General Mills CEO

On the Front Lines: Supervalu

SuperValu CEO's 'Solutions'

“I don’t think there’s any question that people ... don’t necessarily want to spend more time away from home and can’t afford as [many] restaurant visits [as] in the past, so they are looking for solutions — meal solutions in stores. And [SuperValu] , [like] many retailers, are delivering more meal solutions in a value-priced way, so that people can pick up things that are ... ready to go or only need limited preparation and bring them home.”

- Jeff Noddle, Supervalu CEO