Conagra decreased ad spend by more than a third in Q4

But the company is promising to put a large spend behind forthcoming product innovations.
Hungry Man Sportsnet 1

Conagra says ad and promotion spending is down for the quarter, this as its latest revenue numbers failed to meet analyst expectations. 

The company posted revenue of $2.91 billion for Q4, below the street’s $2.93 billion thanks to continued inflationary pressures and productivity in the quarter below historic levels given continued supply chain challenges. 

The maker of Gardein, Hungry Man, Hunt’s, Slim Jim, and better for you popcorn brand Angie’s Boomchickapop, is reporting that for Q4, net sales increased 6.2% and organic net sales increased 6.8%.

Advertising and promotion for the quarter decreased 38.7% to $46 million, driven primarily by lapping increased investment in the prior year period.

In the company conference call, president and CEO Sean Connolly said it’s “constantly toggling our spend to what we think is going to be most effective and most efficient.”

He adds however, that total investment has been and remains strong.

Connolly also says Conagra has got a big innovation slate this year. “If we’re in a launch window for new innovation going to market, we will put more money above the line for everything from slotting to in-store sampling on those new items, getting it onto an end-aisle display so people can discover it,” Connolly says.

Conagra is also reporting a 6.4% drop in volumes as it and other large companies continue to combat pricing and inflationary pressures. 

However, Connolly noted that while private label is gaining some share more broadly in food, Conagra has not seen notable migration toward private label in the heavily branded categories in which it competes.  He added that its brands continue to resonate with consumers, demonstrated by broad-based share gains within the portfolio, particularly within its most strategic domains of Frozen and Snacks. 

The company is reporting that in its frozen retail portfolio, its plant-based protein offerings are up 17.4% versus a year ago, with strong breakfast sausage gains (16.%) and single-serve meals (10.8%).

The company claims three of the five top selling new SKUs in plant-based are its Gardein filets, tenders and nuggets.

Last week, Conagra Brands announced it is promoting Paul Hogan to VP and GM, international and earlier, the company also also announced big changes to its leadership teams.

Tim Lute, most recently CEO of challenger sparkling maple tree water brand, Sapsucker and longtime Coca Cola VP overseeing channel strategy and marketing, joined Conagra Brands as its VP, commercial strategy, insights & transformation.

Meanwhile, Leslie Mackay was named VP, customer leadership organization. The nearly two-decade long veteran of Kimberly-Clark originally joined Conagra in 2019 as its director of market development.