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Gary Rodkin

  • Power 50 Ranking: 33
  • Title: CEO
  • Company: ConAgra Foods
  • Key Developments: New brand identity campaign connecting ConAgra to the brands it markets.
  • What's Next: More emphasis on shopper marketing.
Gary Rodkin - Power 50 Profile

Chef Boyardee, Swiss Miss and Healthy Choice are highly recognizable brands, but most people don’t associate them with ConAgra Foods. “The research showed there was a great deal of respect and appreciation for our brands, but there really wasn’t a clear identity for ConAgra,” Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer, told SN.

ConAgra turned the results into action, launching a brand identity campaign aimed at linking the company to its products. A new logo features the tagline “ConAgra Foods — food you love” to reinforce the individual company brands.

The new identity comes at a time when the company is focusing more on its retail and foodservice brands. Last year, ConAgra sold its commodity-trading, fertilizer and ethanol businesses. “We’re truly all about food now,” Rodkin said.

ConAgra is improving itself in other ways like shifting much of its promotional efforts to shopper marketing. “We are finding out how consumers behave in-store and how we fit in with retailer programming,” he said.

As it works on this and other business-building initiatives, the company is also dealing with a challenge of a different kind. On June 16, an explosion at its Garner, N.C., Slim Jim manufacturing plant killed three employees and injured others. The company set up a fund to help the victims and their families and is working with local authorities to determine the cause.

Since the tragedy, ConAgra has relied on existing inventories of Slim Jim. Although service disruptions are likely during the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the company expects the business to achieve “acceptable service levels” during the second quarter.

— Carol Angrisani