CONAGRA MOVES TO DIRECT SALES

OMAHA, Neb. -- ConAgra Frozen Foods said it will shift most lines to direct sales in about half its U.S. markets by the end of next year.The move will eliminate brokers in about 50% of the country for most of its lines, which include Healthy Choice, Banquet, Patio, Morton, and Kid Cuisine, said Pat Quarles, a company spokeswoman. Healthy Choice Ice Cream and Marie Callender's products will be unaffected.On

OMAHA, Neb. -- ConAgra Frozen Foods said it will shift most lines to direct sales in about half its U.S. markets by the end of next year.

The move will eliminate brokers in about 50% of the country for most of its lines, which include Healthy Choice, Banquet, Patio, Morton, and Kid Cuisine, said Pat Quarles, a company spokeswoman. Healthy Choice Ice Cream and Marie Callender's products will be unaffected.

On June 5, ConAgra here informed its brokers, some of which received five-month notices at that time. By that reckoning, the earliest changes will not come before the end of October.

"We want to stress that we are very satisfied with our brokers," said Quarles. "This change is designed to better use inherent corporate synergies for increased future focus against our products."

In the planned configuration, direct retail sales coverage for ConAgra Frozen Foods will be shared with sister company Hunt-Wesson Foods, under a new sales company, ConAgra Grocery Products Retail Sales Co.