Old El Paso fajita

The Old El Paso owner warned of a slower volume recovery heading into 2024

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US consumer packaged goods giant General Mills has downgraded expectations for 2024 as steep price hikes depressed shopper demand.

The Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs and Old El Paso reported slower-than-expected volume recovery in its second quarter to 26 November amid “a continued challenging consumer landscape”.

Net sales in the three months fell 2% to $5.1bn and organic sales were also down 2% year on year despite price rises.

It warned volumes would remain under pressure heading into the new year, reflecting a more cautious consumer economic outlook.

As a result, General Mills said it now expected organic net sales to be between -1% and flat for the financial year, compared with a previous range of 3-4% growth.

“We’re adapting our plans to the evolving consumer environment and staying focused on driving long-term growth, with a priority on winning through innovation, brand building, and in-store execution,” added CEO Jeff Harmening.

Operating profits at the group increased 2% to $812m in the second quarter thanks to cost savings generated under the ‘Holistic Margin Management’ (HMM) programme.

Morning update

The FTSE 100 dropped off 0.1% this morning to 7,708.51pts following good gains yesterday.

Early risers included Naked Wines, up 5.8% to 60p, Virgin Wines UK, up 4.2% to 39.6p, Cranswick, up 1.7% to 3,928.9p, and AG Barr, up 1% to 519p.

Wynnstay is down 4.3% to 347p, McBride lost 2.9% to 81.8p, British American Tobacco dropped 2.8% to 2,271.5p, Britvic is down 2.7% to 847.8p and Ocado is off 2.6% to 768.8p.

That’s all from the finance desk for 2023. We wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year. See you in 2024.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 jumped 1.1% to 7,721.27pts as investors celebrated a bigger-than-expected easing of inflation and looked forward to the propspect of an interest rates cut in 2024.

Fmcg risers included Naked Wines, up 4.3% to 55.6p, C&C Group, up 4.1% to 149.5p, and Ocado, up 3.4% to 792.8p.

McBride and THG were in the red, down 5.6% to 83.7p and 1.3% to 85.4p.