The frozen food aisle is typically found midway along or even at the end of the grocery store maze, positioned so customers can load up without fear that the goods will thaw before they arrive home.
That may be a few steps too far.
Earlier this year, H.J. Heinz Co.’s top executive, William R. Johnson, described the problem to analysts: “Retailers are reorienting their categories and their stores to force people to shop the perimeter. They’re also adding alcohol and so forth. What’s happening is consumers are walking in with a budget. By the time they get out of the perimeter, their budget is gone.”
Heinz executives, at that same May analyst gathering, noted the Pittsburgh food company had taken steps to streamline its frozen food business in the last fiscal year, from selling off a dessert operation to getting rid of several frozen food factories.
“Frozen meals are the most cyclical of the major food categories we compete in,” said Arthur B. Winkleblack, chief financial officer. “Strong in good times and weak in recessionary times.”
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