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2012 Power 50: No. 38 William Johnson

The company known for its “57 varieties” has a few other facts and figures to tout these days.

Some of those include 28 consecutive quarters of organic sales growth, 21% of sales from emerging markets in fiscal 2012, and a record $11.6 billion in sales for the year.

The record sales growth — nearly 9% over year-ago results, amid a challenging economic environment — “reflects the strength of our great brands and our strategic focus on ketchup and sauces and on accelerating growth in emerging markets,” William R. Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh-based company, told SN.

“Looking ahead, I see global growth opportunities in ketchup and sauces, which delivered sales of more than $5 billion for Heinz and organic growth of almost 7% in fiscal 2012,” Johnson said. “Heinz is winning where we choose to compete in ketchup and sauces, and I believe that we have only scratched the surface of our potential in this category, especially in emerging markets.”

In an analyst meeting in May, Johnson detailed how the company’s “trio of growth engines” — emerging markets, global ketchup and Heinz’s top 15 brands — “delivered particularly good results” in the most recent fiscal year.

He also cited the company’s focus on meeting the evolving needs of today’s consumers and their shifting demographics and shopping patterns.

“E-commerce, club, dollar and supercenters are expected to deliver higher relative growth than more traditional food outlets in the U.S. over the next few years, and consequently, our success is going to increasingly depend on our ability to win in these growing channels,” he said at the meeting. “Our U.S. team is responding in a disciplined and measured manner to these evolving demographics.”

For example, Heinz is testing some smaller packages with more affordable price points “for smaller households and struggling consumers,” he said.

He also noted that the company was seeking further penetration in the Hispanic market for its iconic ketchup offerings, where Johnson said Heinz is “significantly underdeveloped” in that category.

In addition, late last month the company unveiled some key leadership changes, moving Dave Woodward from the company’s international division to oversee North America as executive vice president, reporting to Johnson. Woodward assumes duties that had been performed by Scott O’Hara, the former president and CEO of Heinz North America, who recently left the company to pursue other interests.

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