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    Sara Lee Plots Price Increases for Fiscal 2011

    The company's aim is to offset jumps in the cost of pork, beef and coffee.

    Chicago -- Consumers can expect to pay more for Sara Lee Corp. products, ranging from Jimmy Dean sausage to frozen pie, as the company plans to raise prices by high single-digit percentages on average this fiscal year, according to Reuters.

    Speaking at the Reuters Global Food and Agriculture Summit this week, Christopher Fraleigh, chief executive of Sara Lee's North American retail and foodservice business, said the company was preparing its fourth price increase of the current fiscal year, which started last July 5. At the end of the fiscal year, prices for the company's North American products will be up 9 percent as Sara Lee works to offset the impact of cost spikes for pork, beef, wheat and coffee.

    "We've been raising prices pretty steadily ... I would be hard-pressed to think of any product in our portfolio that hasn't seen a price increase," Fraleigh said.

    However, there has been some pushback from consumers. As a result, volume softened, and in some cases, the company has had to backtrack. On three different occasions, Sara Lee retracted price increases on its lunch meats after competitors held the line on pricing, Fraleigh said.

    As Convenience Store News reported in January, Sara Lee plans to split in two after failing to agree to takeover offers. The company announced a plan to spin off its meat business as a new public company by early 2012.

    At the same time, the company is looking for North American, protein-based food businesses to buy, as reported by Reuters. Fraleigh said he would prefer to do such a deal after its businesses are split. "If one of those assets would become available, we'd want to participate in that," he said. "We wouldn't rule it out, but I think it would be unlikely that we would do something before the end of the calendar year."

     

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