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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15 (d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended May 29, 2022

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15 (d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                   to

Commission File No. 1-7275

 


 

CONAGRA BRANDS, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 


Delaware

 

47-0248710

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

  

222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1300

Chicago, Illinois

 

60654

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

Registrants telephone number, including area code (312) 549-5000


Securities registered pursuant to section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $5.00 par value

 

CAG

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    Yes  ☐    No  ☑

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  ☑    No  ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company" and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.:

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

 

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes       No  ☑

 

The aggregate market value of the voting common stock of Conagra Brands, Inc. held by non-affiliates on November 26, 2021 (the last business day of the Registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was approximately $15,158,448,300 based upon the closing sale price on the New York Stock Exchange on such date.

 

At June 26, 2022, 480,091,813 common shares were outstanding.

 

Documents Incorporated by Reference

 

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the Registrant's 2022 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the "2022 Proxy Statement") are incorporated by reference into Part III.

 

Table of Contents

 

PART I

1

   

Item 1

Business

1

     

Item 1A

Risk Factors

7

     

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

19

     

Item 2

Properties

19

     

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

20

     

Item 4

Mine Safety Disclosures

20

     

PART II

21

   

Item 5

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

21

     

Item 6

[Reserved]

21

     

Item 7

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

22

     

Item 7A

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

37

     

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

39
     
 

Consolidated Statements of Earnings for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2022, 2021, and 2020

39

     
 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2022, 2021, and 2020

40

     
 

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of May 29, 2022 and May 30, 2021

41

     
 

Consolidated Statements of Common Stockholders' Equity for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2022, 2021, and 2020

42

     
 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2022, 2021, and 2020

43

     
 

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

44

     

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

86

     

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

86

     

Item 9B

Other Information

86

     

Item 9C

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

87

     

PART III

88

   

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

88

     

Item 11

Executive Compensation

88

     

Item 12

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

88

     

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

89

     

Item 14

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

89

     

PART IV

90

   

Item 15

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

90

     

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

95

     

Signatures

96

 

 

 

 

 
 

PART I

 

This annual report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Actual results, performance, or achievements could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of a number of risks, uncertainties, and other factors. For a discussion of important factors that could cause our results, performance, or achievements to differ materially from any future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, please refer to Item 1A, Risk Factors and Item 7, Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations below.

 

ITEM 1. BUSINESS

 

General Development of Business

 

Conagra Brands, Inc. (the "Company", "Conagra Brands", "we", "us", or "our"), headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, the Company combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The Company's portfolio is evolving to satisfy people's changing food preferences. Its iconic brands such as Birds Eye®, Duncan Hines®, Healthy Choice®, Marie Callender's®, Reddi-wip®, and Slim Jim®, as well as emerging brands, including Angie's® BOOMCHICKAPOP®, Duke's®, Earth Balance®, Gardein®, and Frontera®, offer choices for every occasion.

 

We began as a Midwestern flour-milling company and entered other commodity-based businesses throughout our history. We were initially incorporated as a Nebraska corporation in 1919 and reincorporated as a Delaware corporation in 1976. Over time, we transformed into the branded, pure-play consumer packaged goods food company we are today. Growing our food businesses has also been fueled by innovation, organic growth of our brands, and expansion into adjacent categories, including through acquisitions. We are focused on delivering sustainable, profitable growth with strong and improving returns on our invested capital.

 

On October 26, 2018, we completed our acquisition of Pinnacle Foods Inc. ("Pinnacle"). As a result of the acquisition, Pinnacle became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. 

 

Narrative Description of Business

 

We compete throughout the food industry and focus on adding value for our customers who operate in the retail food and foodservice channels.

 

Our operations, including our reporting segments, are described below. Our locations, including manufacturing facilities, within each reporting segment, are described in Item 2, Properties.

 

Reporting Segments

 

Our reporting segments are as follows:

 

Grocery & Snacks

 

The Grocery & Snacks reporting segment principally includes branded, shelf-stable food products sold in various retail channels in the United States.

 

Refrigerated & Frozen

 

The Refrigerated & Frozen reporting segment principally includes branded, temperature-controlled food products sold in various retail channels in the United States.

 

1

 

International

 

The International reporting segment principally includes branded food products, in various temperature states, sold in various retail and foodservice channels outside of the United States.

 

Foodservice

 

The Foodservice reporting segment includes branded and customized food products, including meals, entrees, sauces, and a variety of custom-manufactured culinary products packaged for sale to restaurants and other foodservice establishments primarily in the United States.

 

Unconsolidated Equity Investments

 

We have two unconsolidated equity investments. Our most significant equity method investment is our joint venture with respect to Ardent Mills, a milling business.

 

Acquisitions

 

On October 26, 2018, we completed the acquisition of Pinnacle, a branded packaged foods company specializing in shelf-stable and frozen foods. As a result of the acquisition, Pinnacle became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. The total amount of consideration paid in connection with the acquisition was approximately $8.03 billion and consisted of: (1) cash of $5.17 billion ($5.12 billion net of cash acquired); (2) 77.5 million Company Shares, with an approximate value of $2.82 billion, issued out of the Company's treasury; and (3) replacement awards issued to former Pinnacle employees representing the fair value attributable to pre-combination service of $51.1 million.

 

Divestitures

 

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, we completed the sale of our Egg Beaters® business for net proceeds of $50.7 million. The results of operations of the divested Egg Beaters® business were primarily included in our Refrigerated and Frozen segment, and to a lesser extent within our International and Foodservice segments, for the periods preceding the completion of the transaction. 

 

During the third quarter of fiscal 2021, we completed the sale of our Peter Pan® peanut butter business for net proceeds of $101.5 million. The results of operations of the divested Peter Pan® peanut butter business were previously reported primarily within our Grocery & Snacks segment, and to a lesser extent within our International and Foodservice segments, for the periods preceding the completion of the transaction. 

 

General

 

The following comments pertain to all of our reporting segments.

 

Conagra Brands is a branded consumer packaged goods food company that operates in many sectors of the food industry, with a significant focus on the sale of branded, private branded, and value-added consumer food, as well as foodservice items and ingredients. We use many different raw materials, most of which are commodities. The prices paid for raw materials used in making our food generally reflect factors such as weather, commodity market fluctuations, currency fluctuations, tariffs, and the effects of governmental agricultural programs. Although the prices of raw materials can be expected to fluctuate as a result of these factors, we believe such raw materials to be in adequate supply and generally available from numerous sources. From time to time, we have faced increased costs for many of our significant raw materials, packaging, and energy inputs. We seek to mitigate higher input costs through productivity and pricing initiatives and the use of derivative instruments to economically hedge a portion of forecasted future consumption.

 

We experience intense competition for sales of our food items in our major markets. Our food items compete with widely advertised, well-known, branded food, as well as private branded and customized food items. Some of our competitors are larger and have greater resources than we have. We compete primarily on the basis of quality, value, product innovation, customer service, brand recognition, and brand loyalty.

 

2

 

Demand for certain of our food items may be influenced by holidays, changes in seasons, or other annual events. For example, sales of frozen foods tend to be marginally higher during the winter months, seafood sales are highest during Lent, in advance of the Easter holiday, and production of certain of our products occurs seasonally, during or immediately following the purchase of agricultural crops.

 

Our intellectual property rights, including our trademarks, licensing agreements, trade secrets, patents, and copyrights are of material importance to our business, and we attempt to protect such rights by pursuing remedies available to us under trademark, copyright, trade secret, and patent laws, as well as entering into licensing, third-party nondisclosure and assignment agreements, and policing of third-party misuses of our intellectual property. Some of our food items are sold under brands that have been licensed from others, including under the P.F. Changs®, Bertolli®, and Libbys® trademarks. We also own certain intellectual property rights that are licensed to third parties, such as the Alexia® trademark. While many of these licensing arrangements are perpetual in nature, others must be periodically renegotiated or renewed pursuant to their terms. We also actively develop and maintain a portfolio of patents, although no single patent is considered material to the business as a whole. We have proprietary trade secrets, technology, know-how, processes, and other intellectual property rights that are not registered.

 

Our operations are subject to various laws and regulations administered by federal, state, local, and foreign government agencies, including, but not limited to, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Labor. In particular, the processing, packaging, transportation, storage, distribution, advertising, labeling, quality, and safety of food products, the health and safety of our employees, and the protection of the environment are each subject to governmental regulation. Additionally, we are subject to data privacy and security regulations, tax and securities regulations, accounting and reporting standards, and other financial laws and regulations. We believe that we are in compliance with such laws and regulations in all material respects and do not expect that continued compliance with such regulations will have a material effect upon capital expenditures, earnings, or our competitive position.

 

Our largest customer, Walmart, Inc. and its affiliates, accounted for approximately 27% of consolidated net sales for fiscal 2022 and 26% of consolidated net sales for each of fiscal 2021 and 2020.

 

Human Capital Resources

 

At Conagra, we believe that our employees are the driving force behind our success. We believe that the success and growth of our business depends in large part on our ability to attract, develop, and retain a diverse population of talented and high-performing employees at all levels of our organization. We leverage our six timeless values, which form the framework of our Company culture, to guide our approach to human capital management:

 

 

Integrity: Doing the right things and doing things right

 

 

External Focus: Centering on the consumer, customer, competitor, and investor

 

 

Broad-Mindedness: Rejecting silos and embracing disciplined curiosity

 

 

Agility: Converting insights into action with the speed of an entrepreneur

 

 

Leadership: Simplifying decision-making, inspiring others, and acting like an owner

 

 

Results: Leveraging a "refuse-to-lose" obsession with impact and value creation

 

We have developed key recruitment, development, and retention strategies and objectives that guide our human capital management approach. These strategies and objectives are advanced through a number of programs, policies, and initiatives, as described below.

 

As of May 29, 2022, we had approximately 18,000 employees, primarily in the United States. Approximately 47% of our employees are parties to collective bargaining agreements. We believe our relationships with employees and their representative organizations are good.

 

3

 

Safety and Health: The health and safety of our employees is our top priority. We are focused on maintaining a strong culture of safety, in which all employees strive to protect themselves and their colleagues. During fiscal year 2022, our Occupational Safety & Health Administration Incident Rate was 1.67 incidents per 100 full-time workers, as compared to 2.00 incidents per 100 full-time workers in fiscal 2021 and 1.69 incidents per 100 full-time workers in fiscal 2020. We compare our incident rate to that of the average for companies in the food manufacturing sector, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In each of the last three fiscal years, our incident rate has been below the industry average. Our health and safety team audits each of our facilities every two years to confirm compliance with safety regulations and corporate policies. The team documents the audit results and tracks corrective actions to ensure we hold ourselves accountable for providing a safe work environment.

 

Beginning in February 2020 and continuing during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, our senior leadership has relied on cross-functional teams (a COVID-19 pandemic team, Return to Office team, and Vaccine Preparedness team), to review and assess the evolving situation, and to recommend risk mitigation actions for the health and safety of our employees. In order to enhance the safety of our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, these teams have recommended, and we have implemented, various measures, including the installation of physical barriers between employees; employee screening protocols; facility cleaning and sanitation protocols; policies on the use of personal protective equipment; and robust employee leave policies. We have also executed a phased return to office approach to enable in-person work for corporate personnel, implemented work-from-home initiatives for certain office personnel, and provided increased access to COVID-19 vaccines for production facilities and corporate locations.

 

Diversity and Inclusion: We strive to nourish an inclusive culture that encourages openness, acceptance, and individual authenticity. We believe that an inclusive culture drives employee engagement.

 

At Conagra, we believe diversity is measured by more than race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. All backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and opinions are valued and belong at Conagra, and we harness the power of diversity and inclusion ("D&I") to accelerate innovation and growth and as key drivers of shareholder value creation.

 

We approach diversity from the top-down, exemplified by our Board of Directors (the "Board") and our Senior Leadership Team: three of our 12 directors are racially/ethnically diverse, four of our 12 directors are women, and three of nine members of our Senior Leadership Team are women. We believe that a diverse team with a variety of viewpoints adds value to our business decision making and innovation by encouraging and incorporating a variety of perspectives and experiences.

 

During fiscal 2022, we launched numerous efforts to amplify our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce:

 

 

Our Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, comprised of our Senior Leadership and Human Resources Diversity and Inclusion teams, developed the Company's D&I strategic plan during fiscal 2022, with a continued focus on recruiting, advocating for, and developing diverse talent. In each of these areas, we have multiple strategic initiatives underway. Core aspects of our strategy include building a strong entry-level pipeline; providing development opportunities for underrepresented groups, internal and external; and committing to develop and advance our talent along the way. Examples of recruitment, advocacy, and development initiatives launched during fiscal 2022 include the following:

 

 

We launched our "Experience Inclusion" corporate website to highlight our D&I commitment, journey, and initiatives to enhance our recruitment of diverse talent.

 

 

We expanded our diversity recruitment strategies focused on strengthening the diversity of candidate slates at the early talent (recent college graduates) and experienced hire levels; partnered with Sounding Board, Inc. to launch an external coaching program to advance professional development for underrepresented talent; and expanded our internal mentoring program to our Latinx Employee Resource Group.

 

 

We awarded the "Conagra Refuse-to-Lose Scholarship" to 30 students from Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Hispanic Scholarship Fund. All scholarship recipients were invited to participate in a mentorship program launched in May 2022.

 

 

Throughout fiscal 2022, the Human Resources Committee of our Board (the "HR Committee") received regular updates from management on our D&I progress. The HR Committee has embedded D&I into its standing agenda and intends to discuss the topic at every regularly scheduled meeting it holds in fiscal 2023.

 

4

 

We also continue to provide diversity and inclusion training for employees to highlight issues that impact underrepresented communities and to reduce the effects of bias in the workplace. Our goal is to create a culture of belonging, where everyone can experience inclusion. We want to be a place where people trust and respect one another. While we value and embrace diversity, we also celebrate what we all have in common—our energy and passion for making great food and great brands.

 

Learning and Development: We believe that by enabling employee development, we better position Conagra to meet current and future business needs and increase employee retention. By providing employees with learning and development opportunities, we empower them to build knowledge and skills and feel fulfilled in their work at Conagra.

 

We leverage a variety of processes to enable employee learning and development at Conagra:

 

 

Employees have access to a variety of learning tools at Conagra, covering a wide array of topics. Our office-based employees can also access thousands of learning modules on-demand at their desks.

 

 

Individual objectives are set each year, providing employees with clear expectations for their performance in the short-term. Regular performance evaluations provide employees with feedback and growth opportunities.

 

 

Salaried employees are encouraged to develop Individual Development Plans ("IDP"). IDPs serve as a personal action plan, under which employees engage with their manager in ongoing development conversations, so that long-term career goals and developmental activities can be reviewed.

 

Compensation and Benefits: We offer competitive compensation and benefits to attract the best talent and to support the overall well-being of our employees. Through our holistic approach to benefits, we provide our employees with resources to help them thrive. We offer a wide range of benefits across areas such as health, family, finance, community, and time away, including healthcare and wellness benefits, adoption and surrogacy assistance, family care resources, a 401(k) plan, family leave, and paid time off. A more complete discussion of our approach to employee compensation and benefits can be found in our Proxy Statement for the 2022 Annual Shareholders' Meeting.

 

Information About Our Executive Officers

 

The names, ages, and positions of our executive officers as of July 21, 2022 are listed below:

 

Name

 

Title & Capacity

 

Age

 

Year First

Appointed an

Executive

Officer

Sean M. Connolly

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

56

   

2015

David S. Marberger

 

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

 

57

   

2016

Carey L. Bartell

 

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

 

48

   

2022

Charisse Brock

 

Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

 

60

   

2015

Alexandre O. Eboli

 

Executive Vice President, Chief Supply Chain Officer

 

50

   

2021

Thomas M. McGough

 

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer

 

57

   

2013

Darren C. Serrao

 

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer

 

56

   

2015

Robert G. Wise

 

Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller

 

54

   

2012

 

Sean M. Connolly has served as our President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board since April 6, 2015. Prior to that, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of The Hillshire Brands Company (a branded food products company) from June 2012 to August 2014, Executive Vice President of Sara Lee Corporation (a branded food products company and the predecessor to Hillshire), and Chief Executive Officer, Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice, from January 2012 to June 2012. Prior to joining Sara Lee in anticipation of the spin-off of Hillshire, Mr. Connolly served as President of Campbell North America, the largest division of Campbell Soup Company (a branded food products company), from October 2010 to December 2011, President, Campbell USA from 2008 to 2010, and President, North American Foodservice for Campbell from 2007 to 2008. Before joining Campbell in 2002, he served in various marketing and brand management roles at The Procter & Gamble Company (a consumer packaged goods company).

 

5

 

David S. Marberger has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since August 2016. Prior to joining Conagra Brands, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Prestige Brands Holdings, Inc. (a provider of over-the-counter healthcare products) from October 2015 until July 2016. Prior to that, Mr. Marberger served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Godiva Chocolatier, Inc. (a global manufacturer and supplier of premium chocolates) from 2008 until October 2015. Prior to that, Mr. Marberger served Tasty Baking Company (a manufacturer and supplier of baked goods) as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 2006 to 2008 and as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 2003 to 2006. From 1993 until 2003, he served in various roles at Campbell Soup Company (a branded food products company), where he last held the position of Vice President, Finance, Food and Beverage Division.

 

Carey L. Bartell has served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Conagra Brands since June 2022. In this role, Ms. Bartell oversees all legal and governmental affairs activity for the company. Previously, Ms. Bartell served as Vice President and Chief Counsel leading the company’s litigation efforts and compliance programs. Ms. Bartell joined Conagra in 2016. Prior to Conagra, Ms. Bartell worked for eight years at Hospira, Inc., a global pharmaceutical and medical device company, as Senior Counsel and then Vice president, Legal. In this role, she oversaw the company’s litigation, labor, employment, and immigration law, and advised senior management and the board of directors regarding diverse legal and business risks. Ms. Bartell began her career in private practice at a Chicago law firm, first as an Associate and then Partner, where she practiced primarily in the areas of litigation and labor & employment law.

 

Charisse Brock has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer since November 2015 and previously served as Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer from August 2015 until November 2015. Prior to serving in these roles, Ms. Brock served as Vice President of Human Resources for the Consumer Foods segment of Conagra Brands from September 2010 until August 2015. Ms. Brock joined Conagra Brands in 2004 as Director of Human Resources, supporting the Refrigerated Foods Group. Prior to joining Conagra Brands, she served for 15 years at The Quaker Oats Company (a branded food products company) (which was acquired by PepsiCo during her tenure) in its Consumer Foods Division.

 

Alexandre "Ale" O. Eboli has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer for Conagra Brands since August 2021. Mr. Eboli has end-to-end supply chain responsibilities for the company, overseeing the manufacturing, procurement, environment, health and safety, plant quality, logistics, and transportation and warehousing teams. Mr. Eboli joined Conagra Brands with 25 years of experience of global end-to-end supply chain leadership within the consumer packaged goods industry and has held a variety of roles in finance, planning, distribution, logistics and manufacturing. Prior to Conagra, Mr. Eboli served as the Head of Supply Chain, North America for The Unilever Group, where he was responsible for overseeing manufacturing facilities and co-manufacturers producing personal care, food and ice cream products as well as the related planning, procurement, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, quality, manufacturing excellence and customer service functions.

 

Thomas M. McGough has served as Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer since October 2018. Prior to that, he served as the Company's President, Operating Segments from May 2017 until October 2018 and as the Company's President of Consumer Foods from May 2013 until May 2017. Mr. McGough also served as President, Grocery Products from 2011 until May 2013 and as Vice President in the Company's Consumer Foods organization from 2007 to 2011. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. McGough served in various roles at H.J. Heinz (a food processing company), where he began his career in 1990.

 

Darren C. Serrao has served as Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer since October 2018. Prior to that, he served as Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer from August 2015 to October 2018. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Serrao served as Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer at Campbell Soup Company (a branded food products company) from February 2015 until August 2015 and as Senior Vice President of Innovation and Business Development for Campbell North America from July 2011 until February 2015. Mr. Serrao has also held several profit and loss and marketing positions during his career, including roles with PepsiCo and Unilever.

 

Robert G. Wise has served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller since December 2012. Mr. Wise joined Conagra Brands in March 2003 and has held various positions of increasing responsibility with Conagra Brands, including Vice President, Assistant Corporate Controller from March 2006 until January 2012 and Vice President, Corporate Controller from January 2012 until December 2012. Prior to joining Conagra Brands, Mr. Wise served in various roles at KPMG LLP (an accounting firm) from October 1995 until March 2003.

 

Foreign Operations

 

Foreign operations information is set forth in Note 19, "Business Segments and Related Information", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

 

6

 

Available Information

 

We make available, free of charge through the "Investors—Financial Reports & Filings" link on our website at http://www.conagrabrands.com, our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). We use our website, through the "Investors" link, as a channel for routine distribution of important information, including news releases, analyst presentations, and financial information. The information on our website is not, and will not be deemed to be, a part of this annual report on Form 10-K or incorporated into any of our other filings with the SEC.

 

We have also posted on our website our (1) Corporate Governance Principles, (2) Code of Conduct, (3) Code of Ethics for Senior Corporate Officers, and (4) Charters for the Audit/Finance Committee, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee, and Human Resources Committee. Stockholders may also obtain copies of these items at no charge by writing to: Corporate Secretary, Conagra Brands, Inc., 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1300, Chicago, IL, 60654.

 

 

ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

 

Our business is subject to various risks and uncertainties. Any of the risks and uncertainties described below could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations and should be considered in evaluating us. Although the risks are organized by headings and each risk is described separately, many of the risks are interrelated. While we believe we have identified and discussed below the key risk factors affecting our business, there may be additional risks and uncertainties that are not presently known or that are not currently believed to be significant that may adversely affect our business, performance, or financial condition in the future. You should not interpret the disclosure of any risk factor to imply that the risk has not already materialized.

 

COVID-19 Pandemic Risks

 

The COVID-19 pandemic could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Although we experienced challenges in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, including temporary closings of production facilities, employee illnesses, increased costs, supply chain interruptions and reduced demand in our Foodservice segment, to date the pandemic has not had a net negative impact on our liquidity or results of operations. However, the continued spread of COVID-19, including new variants, could negatively impact our business, financial condition, and results of operations in a number of ways in the future. These impacts could include, but are not limited to:

 

 

shutdowns or slowdowns of one or more of our production facilities;

 

 

further disruptions in our supply chain and in our ability to obtain ingredients, packaging, and other sourced materials due to continued labor shortages and/or volatility in the labor market, governmental restrictions, or the failure of our suppliers, distributors, or manufacturers to meet their obligations to us;

 

 

continued increases in raw material and commodity costs;

 

 

the inability of a significant portion of our workforce, including our management team, to work as a result of illness or government restrictions;

 

 

shifts and volatility in consumer spending and purchasing behaviors; and

 

 

reduced availability of credit or financing upon acceptable terms or at all.

 

7

 

The duration and extent of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on future developments that cannot be accurately predicted at this time, such as the severity and transmission rate of the virus, the emergence and spread of variants, infection rates in areas where we operate, the extent and effectiveness of containment actions, including the continued availability and effectiveness of vaccines in the markets where we operate, and the impact of these and other factors on our employees, customers, suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers. Should these conditions persist for a prolonged period, the COVID-19 pandemic, including any of the above factors and others that are currently unknown, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may also exacerbate other risks discussed in this Item 1A, Risk Factors, any of which could have a material effect on us.

 

Market Risks

 

Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected by disruptions in the global economy caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine or other geopolitical conflict.

 

The global economy has been negatively impacted by the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Furthermore, governments in the U.S., United Kingdom, and European Union have each imposed export controls on certain products and financial and economic sanctions on certain industry sectors and parties in Russia. Although we have no operations in Russia or Ukraine, we have experienced shortages in materials and increased costs for transportation, energy, and raw material due in part to the negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict on the global economy. Further escalation of geopolitical tensions related to the military conflict, including increased trade barriers or restrictions on global trade, could result in, among other things, cyberattacks, supply disruptions, lower consumer demand, and changes to foreign exchange rates and financial markets, any of which may adversely affect our business and supply chain. In addition, the effects of the ongoing conflict could heighten many of our known risks described in this Item 1A, Risk Factors.

 

Deterioration of general economic conditions could harm our business and results of operations.

 

Our business and results of operations have in the past been and may continue to be adversely affected by changes in national or global economic conditions, including inflation, rising interest rates, availability of capital markets, consumer spending rates, energy availability and costs (including fuel surcharges), the negative impacts caused by pandemics and public health crises (including the COVID-19 pandemic), and the effects of governmental initiatives to manage economic conditions.

 

Volatility in financial markets, including rising interest rates, and deterioration of national and global economic conditions has impacted and could continue to impact our business and operations in a variety of ways, including as follows:

 

 

consumers shifting purchases to more generic, lower-priced, or other value offerings, or foregoing certain purchases altogether during economic downturns, which could result in a reduction in sales of higher margin products or a shift in our product mix to lower margin offerings adversely affecting the results of our operations;

 

 

decreased demand in the restaurant business (including due to the COVID-19 pandemic), particularly casual and fine dining, may adversely affect our Foodservice operations;

 

 

volatility in commodity and other input costs could substantially impact our result of operations;

 

 

volatility in the equity markets or interest rates could substantially impact our pension costs and required pension contributions;

 

 

rising interest rates may adversely impact our results of operations; and

 

 

it may become more costly or difficult to obtain debt or equity financing to fund operations or investment opportunities, or to refinance our debt in the future, in each case on terms and within a time period acceptable to us.

 

8

 

Credit Risks

 

Our existing and future debt may limit cash flow available to invest in the ongoing needs of our business and could prevent us from fulfilling our debt obligations or returning cash to stockholders.

 

As of May 29, 2022, we had total debt of approximately $8.98 billion, including approximately $8.71 billion aggregate principal amount of outstanding senior notes. Our ability to make payments on our debt, fund our other liquidity needs, make planned capital expenditures, and return cash to stockholders, will depend on our ability to generate cash in the future. Our historical financial results have been, and we anticipate that our future financial results will be, subject to fluctuations. Our ability to generate cash, to a certain extent, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, legislative, regulatory, and other factors that are beyond our control. We cannot guarantee that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from our operations or that future borrowings will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to make payments of our debt, fund other liquidity needs, make planned capital expenditures, or return cash to stockholders.

 

Our level of debt could have important consequences. For example, it could:

 

 

make it more difficult for us to satisfy our debt service obligations;

 

 

restrict us from making strategic acquisitions or taking advantage of favorable business opportunities;

 

 

restrict us from repurchasing shares of our common stock;

 

 

negatively impact our ability to pay a cash dividend at an attractive level;

 

 

limit flexibility to plan for, or react to, changes in the businesses and industries in which we operate, which may adversely affect our operating results and ability to meet our debt service obligations;

 

 

limit our ability to refinance our indebtedness or increase the cost of such indebtedness;

 

 

require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to the payment of debt service, reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, and other general corporate purposes;

 

 

increase our vulnerability to adverse economic or industry conditions, including changes in interest rates;

 

 

limit our ability to obtain additional financing in the future to fund our working capital requirements, capital expenditures, acquisitions, investment, debt service obligations, and other general operating requirements or to enable us to react to changes in our business; or

 

 

place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to businesses in our industry that have less debt.

 

Additionally, any failure to meet required payments on our debt, or failure to comply with any covenants in the instruments governing our debt, could result in an event of default under the terms of those instruments and a downgrade to our credit ratings. In the event of a default, the holders of our debt could elect to declare all the amounts outstanding under such instruments to be due and payable. Any default under the agreements governing our debt and the remedies sought by the holders of such debt could render us unable to pay principal and interest on our debt.

 

Recently, we have increasingly accessed the commercial paper markets for ongoing funding requirements. A downgrade in our credit ratings would increase our borrowing costs and could affect our ability to issue commercial paper. Additionally, disruptions in the commercial paper market or other effects of volatile economic conditions on the credit markets could also reduce the amount of commercial paper that we could issue and raise our borrowing costs.

 

9

 

A significant portion of our operations are conducted through our subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to generate sufficient cash flow for our needs is dependent to some extent on the earnings of our subsidiaries and the payment of those earnings to us in the form of dividends, loans, or advances and through repayment of loans or advances from us. Our subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities. Our subsidiaries have no obligation to pay any amounts due on our debt to provide us with funds to meet our cash flow needs, whether in the form of dividends, distributions, loans, or other payments. In addition, any payment of dividends, loans, or advances by our subsidiaries could be subject to statutory or contractual restrictions. Payments to us by our subsidiaries will also be contingent upon our subsidiaries' earnings and business considerations. Our right to receive any assets of any of our subsidiaries upon their liquidation or reorganization will be effectively subordinated to the claims of that subsidiary's creditors, including trade creditors. In addition, even if we are a creditor of any of our subsidiaries, our rights as a creditor would be subordinate to any security interest in the assets of our subsidiaries and any indebtedness of our subsidiaries senior to that held by us. Finally, changes in the laws of foreign jurisdictions in which we operate may adversely affect the ability of some of our foreign subsidiaries to repatriate funds to us.

 

Competition Risks

 

Increased competition may result in reduced sales or profits.

 

The food industry is highly competitive, and further consolidation in the industry would likely increase competition. Our principal competitors have substantial financial, marketing, and other resources. Increased competition can reduce our sales due to loss of market share or the need to reduce prices to respond to competitive and customer pressures. Competitive pressures also may restrict our ability to increase prices, including in response to commodity and other cost increases. We sell branded, private brand, and customized food products, as well as commercially branded foods. Our branded products have an advantage over private brand products primarily due to advertising and name recognition, although private brand products typically sell at a discount to those of branded competitors. In addition, when branded competitors focus on price and promotion, the environment for private brand producers becomes more challenging because the price difference between private brand products and branded products may become less significant. In most product categories, we compete not only with other widely advertised branded products, but also with other private label and store brand products that are generally sold at lower prices. A strong competitive response from one or more of our competitors to our marketplace efforts, or a consumer shift towards more generic, lower-priced, or other value offerings, could result in us reducing pricing, increasing marketing or other expenditures, or losing market share. Our margins and profits could decrease if a reduction in prices or increased costs are not counterbalanced with increased sales volume.

 

In addition, substantial growth in e-commerce has encouraged the entry of new competitors and business models, intensifying competition by simplifying distribution and lowering barriers to entry. The expanding presence of e-commerce retailers has impacted, and may continue to impact, consumer preferences and market dynamics, which in turn may negatively affect our sales or profits.

 

If we do not achieve the appropriate cost structure in the highly competitive food industry, our profitability could decrease.

 

Our future success and earnings growth depend in part on our ability to achieve the appropriate cost structure and operate efficiently in the highly competitive food industry, particularly in an environment of volatile input costs. We continue to implement profit-enhancing initiatives that impact our supply chain and general and administrative functions. These initiatives are focused on cost-saving opportunities in procurement, manufacturing, logistics, and customer service, as well as general and administrative overhead levels. Gaining additional efficiencies may become more difficult over time. Our failure to reduce costs through productivity gains or by eliminating redundant costs resulting from acquisitions could adversely affect our profitability and weaken our competitive position. If we do not continue to effectively manage costs and achieve additional efficiencies, our competitiveness and our profitability could decrease.

 

Commodity Risks

 

We are subject to increases in the price of raw materials, labor, manufacturing, distribution, and other inputs necessary for the production and distribution of our products, and we may not be able to fully offset this input cost inflation on a timely basis or at all.

 

Many of the components of our cost of goods sold are subject to price increases that are attributable to factors beyond our control, including but not limited to, global economic conditions, trade barriers or restrictions, supply chain disruptions, changes in crop size, product scarcity, demand dynamics, currency rates, water supply, weather conditions, import and export requirements, and other factors. The cost of raw materials, labor, manufacturing, energy, fuel, packaging materials, and other inputs related to the production and distribution of our products have increased and may continue to increase unexpectedly.

 

10

 

In the latter part of fiscal 2021 and throughout fiscal 2022, input costs increased materially and at a rapid rate. We expect the pressures of input cost inflation to continue into fiscal 2023.

 

The Company uses a variety of strategies to seek to offset this input cost inflation. However, we may not be able to generate sufficient productivity improvements, price increases or commodity hedging benefits to fully offset these costs, or do so on an acceptable timeline. To the extent we are unable to offset present and future input cost increases, our operating results could be materially and adversely affected.

 

 Increases in commodity costs may have a negative impact on profits.

 

We use many different commodities such as wheat, corn, oats, soybeans, beef, pork, poultry, steel, aluminum, and energy. Commodities are subject to price volatility caused by global economic conditions, trade barriers or restrictions, supply chain disruptions, commodity market fluctuations, supply and demand, currency fluctuations, external conditions such as weather, and changes in governmental agricultural and energy policies and regulations. In addition, recent world events have increased the risks posed by international trade disputes, tariffs, and sanctions. We procure a wide spectrum of commodities globally and could potentially face increased prices for commodities sourced from nations that could be impacted by trade disputes, tariffs, or sanctions. Commodity price increases have resulted and may in the future result in increases in raw material, packaging, and energy costs and operating costs. We have implemented pricing actions that have, in part, offset these increased costs, but we may not be able to increase our product prices and achieve cost savings that fully offset these increased costs; and increasing prices may result in reduced sales volume, reduced margins, and profitability. We have experience in hedging against commodity price increases; however, these practices and experience reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of negative profit impacts from commodity price increases. We do not fully hedge against changes in commodity prices, and the risk management procedures that we use may not always work as we intend.

 

Volatility in the market value of derivatives we use to manage exposures to fluctuations in commodity prices will cause volatility in our gross margins and net earnings.

 

We utilize derivatives to manage price risk for some of our principal ingredients and energy costs, including grains (wheat, corn, and oats), oils, beef, pork, poultry, and energy. Changes in the values of these derivatives are generally recorded in earnings currently, resulting in volatility in both gross margin and net earnings. These gains and losses are reported in cost of goods sold in our Consolidated Statements of Earnings and in unallocated general corporate expenses in our segment operating results until we utilize the underlying input in our manufacturing process, at which time the gains and losses are reclassified to segment operating profit. We may experience volatile earnings as a result of these accounting treatments.

 

Strategic Transaction Risks

 

We may not realize the benefits that we anticipated from the Pinnacle Foods acquisition.

 

The benefits that are expected to result from the Pinnacle acquisition will continue to depend, in part, on our ability to realize the anticipated growth opportunities and cost synergies as the result of the acquisition. Our success in realizing these growth opportunities and cost synergies, and the timing of this realization, depends on the successful integration of Pinnacle.

 

In fiscal 2019, we announced a restructuring and integration plan related to the ongoing integration of Pinnacle for the purpose of achieving significant cost synergies (the "Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan"). We expect to continue incurring material charges over a multi-year period for exit and disposal activities under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. We recognized charges of $19.6 million, $31.7 million, and $73.8 million in connection with the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively.

 

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The successful implementation of the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan has presented significant organizational design and infrastructure challenges. In many cases, it has required successful negotiations with third parties, including labor organizations, suppliers, business partners, and other stakeholders. In addition, implementation of aspects of the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan going forward may not advance our business strategy as expected. To date, we have generally been successful in implementing the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan without material interruption of momentum in our activities, events and circumstances, such as financial or strategic difficulties, delays, and unexpected costs may occur that could result in our not realizing all or any of the anticipated benefits or our not realizing the anticipated benefits on our expected timetable. If we are unable to realize the anticipated savings and cost synergies of the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan or successfully and cost-effectively implement aspects of the integration of Pinnacle going forward, our ability to fund other initiatives may be adversely affected. Any failure to implement the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan in accordance with our expectations could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

 

If we are unable to complete acquisitions or integrate acquired businesses, our financial results could be materially and adversely affected.

 

From time to time, we evaluate acquisition candidates that may strategically fit our business objectives. If we are unable to complete acquisitions or successfully integrate and develop acquired businesses, our financial results could be materially and adversely affected. Moreover, we may incur asset impairment charges related to acquisitions that reduce our profitability.

 

Our acquisition activities may present financial, managerial, and operational risks. Those risks include diversion of management attention from existing businesses, difficulties integrating personnel and financial and other systems, effective and immediate implementation of control environment processes across our employee population, adverse effects on existing business relationships with suppliers and customers, inaccurate estimates of fair value made in the accounting for acquisitions and amortization of acquired intangible assets which would reduce future reported earnings, potential loss of customers or key employees of acquired businesses, and indemnities and potential disputes with the sellers. Any of these factors could affect our sales, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

If we are unable to complete certain divestitures, our financial results could be materially and adversely affected.

 

From time to time, we may divest businesses that do not meet our strategic objectives or do not meet our growth or profitability targets. We may not be able to complete desired divestitures on terms favorable to us. Gains or losses on the sales of, or lost operating income from, those businesses may affect our profitability and margins. Moreover, we may incur asset impairment charges related to divestitures that reduce our profitability.

 

Our divestiture activities may present financial, managerial, and operational risks. Those risks include diversion of management attention from existing businesses, difficulties separating personnel and financial and other systems, possible need for providing transition services to buyers, adverse effects on existing business relationships with suppliers and customers and indemnities and potential disputes with the buyers. Any of these factors could adversely affect our product sales, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

We may be exposed to claims and liabilities or incur operational difficulties as a result of our spinoff of the Lamb Weston business.

 

On November 9, 2016, we completed the spinoff of Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. ("Lamb Weston") through a distribution of 100% of our interest in Lamb Weston to holders of outstanding shares of our common stock (the "Spinoff"). The Spinoff involved a number of risks, including, among other things, certain indemnification risks. In connection with the Spinoff, we entered into a separation and distribution agreement and various other agreements (including a transition services agreement, a tax matters agreement, an employee matters agreement, and a trademark license agreement), which we refer to as the Lamb Weston agreements. The Lamb Weston agreements govern the Spinoff and the post-Spinoff relationship between the two companies.

 

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The Lamb Weston agreements provide for indemnification obligations designed to make Lamb Weston financially responsible for certain liabilities that may exist relating to its business activities, whether incurred prior to or after the distribution, including any pending or future litigation. It is possible that a court would disregard the allocation agreed to between us and Lamb Weston and require us to assume responsibility for obligations allocated to Lamb Weston. Third parties could also seek to hold us responsible for any of these liabilities or obligations, and the indemnity rights we have under the separation and distribution agreement may not be sufficient to fully cover all of these liabilities and obligations. Even if we are successful in obtaining indemnification, we may have to bear costs temporarily. In addition, our indemnity obligations to Lamb Weston may be significant. These risks could negatively affect our business, financial condition, or results of operations. The Lamb Weston agreements could also lead to disputes over rights to certain shared property and rights and over the allocation of costs and revenues for products and operations. If Lamb Weston is unable to satisfy its obligations under these agreements, including its indemnification obligations, we could incur losses.

 

Operating Risks

 

We may be subject to product liability claims and product recalls, which could negatively impact our profitability.

 

We sell food products for human consumption, which involves risks such as product contamination or spoilage, product tampering, other adulteration of food products, mislabeling, and misbranding. We may be subject to liability if the consumption of any of our products causes injury, illness, or death. In addition, we will voluntarily recall products in the event of contamination or damage. We have issued recalls and have from time to time been and currently are involved in lawsuits relating to our food products. A significant product liability judgment or a widespread product recall may negatively impact our sales and profitability for a period of time depending on the costs of the recall, the destruction of product inventory, product availability, competitive reaction, customer reaction, and consumer attitudes. Even if a product liability claim is unsuccessful or is not fully pursued, the negative publicity surrounding any assertion that our products caused illness or injury could adversely affect our reputation with existing and potential customers and our corporate and brand image.

 

Additionally, as a manufacturer and marketer of food products, we are subject to extensive regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other federal, state, and local government agencies. The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act and their respective regulations govern, among other things, the manufacturing, composition and ingredients, packaging, and safety of food products. Some aspects of these laws use a strict liability standard for imposing sanctions on corporate behavior; meaning that no intent is required to be established. If we fail to comply with applicable laws and regulations, we may be subject to civil remedies, including fines, injunctions, recalls, or seizures, as well as criminal sanctions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, or results of operations.

 

Any damage to our reputation could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Maintaining a good reputation is critical to selling our products. Product contamination or tampering, the failure to maintain high standards for product quality, safety, and integrity, including with respect to raw materials and ingredients obtained from suppliers, or allegations of product quality issues, mislabeling, or contamination, even if untrue, may reduce demand for our products or cause production and delivery disruptions. Our reputation could also be adversely impacted by any of the following, or by adverse publicity (whether or not valid) relating thereto: the failure to maintain high ethical, social, and environmental standards for all of our operations and activities; the failure to achieve any stated goals with respect to the nutritional profile of our products; our research and development efforts; or our environmental impact, including use of agricultural materials, packaging, energy use, and waste management. Moreover, the growing use of social and digital media by consumers has greatly increased the speed and extent that information or misinformation and opinions can be shared. Failure to comply with local laws and regulations, to maintain an effective system of internal controls or to provide accurate and timely financial information could also hurt our reputation. Damage to our reputation or loss of consumer confidence in our products for any of these or other reasons could result in decreased demand for our products and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations, as well as require additional resources to rebuild our reputation.

 

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Due to the seasonality of the business, our revenue and operating results may vary from quarter to quarter.

 

Our sales and cash flows are affected by seasonal cyclicality. Sales of frozen foods, including frozen vegetables and frozen complete bagged meals, tend to be marginally higher during the winter months. Seafood sales peak during Lent, in advance of the Easter holiday. Since many of the raw materials we process are agricultural crops, production of these products is predominantly seasonal, occurring during and immediately following the purchase of such crops. For these reasons, sequential quarterly comparisons are not a good indication of our performance or how we may perform in the future. If we are unable to obtain access to working capital or if seasonal fluctuations are greater than anticipated, there could be a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows.

 

Customer Risks

 

We must identify changing consumer preferences and develop and offer food products to meet their preferences.

 

Consumer preferences evolve over time and the success of our food products depends on our ability to identify the tastes and dietary habits of consumers and to offer products that appeal to their preferences, including concerns of consumers regarding health and wellness, obesity, product attributes, and ingredients. Introduction of new products and product extensions requires significant development and marketing investment.

 

Trends indicate that people have continued to generally cook at home more often even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, and our consumers are repurchasing our products across a number of our leading brands at higher rates. If our products fail to meet changing consumer preferences or habits, or if we fail to introduce new and improved products on a timely basis, then the return on that investment will be less than anticipated and our strategy to grow sales and profits with investments in acquisitions, marketing, and innovation will be less successful. Similarly, demand for our products could be affected by consumer concerns or perceptions regarding the health effects of ingredients such as sodium, trans fats, sugar, processed wheat, or other product ingredients or attributes.

 

Additionally, as we have continued to implement pricing action in response to increased costs of goods sold, the elasticity impact from our pricing actions has been favorable to date compared to historical trends, but demand for our products could be affected if elasticities become unfavorable in response to our pricing actions.

 

Changes in our relationships with significant customers or suppliers could adversely affect us.

 

During fiscal 2022, our largest customer, Walmart, Inc. and its affiliates, accounted for approximately 27% of our consolidated net sales. There can be no assurance that Walmart, Inc. and other significant customers will continue to purchase our products in the same quantities or on the same terms as in the past, particularly as increasingly powerful retailers continue to demand lower pricing. The loss of a significant customer or a material reduction in sales to a significant customer could materially and adversely affect our product sales, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

The sophistication and buying power of our customers could have a negative impact on profits.

 

Our customers, such as supermarkets, warehouse clubs, and food distributors, have continued to consolidate, resulting in fewer customers on which we can rely for business. These consolidations, the growth of supercenters, and the growth of e-commerce customers have produced large, sophisticated customers with increased buying power and negotiating strength who are more capable of resisting price increases and who can demand lower pricing, increased promotional programs, or specialty tailored products. In addition, larger retailers have the scale to develop supply chains that permit them to operate with reduced inventories or to develop and market their own retailer brands. These customers may also in the future use more of their shelf space, currently used for our products, for their store brand products. We continue to implement initiatives to counteract these pressures. However, if the larger size of these customers results in additional negotiating strength and/or increased private label or store brand competition, our profitability could decline.

 

Consolidation also increases the risk that adverse changes in our customers' business operations or financial performance will have a corresponding material adverse effect on us. For example, if our customers cannot access sufficient funds or financing, then they may delay, decrease, or cancel purchases of our products, or delay or fail to pay us for previous purchases.

 

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Third-Party Partner Risks

 

Disruption of our supply chain have had and could continue to have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our ability to make, move, and sell our products is critical to our success. During fiscal 2022, we have experienced disruption to our supply and elevated supply chain operating costs due, in part, to disruptions in the availability of labor and certain materials, and input cost inflation. Continued or future damage or disruption to our supply chain, including third-party manufacturing or transportation and distribution capabilities, due to weather, including any potential effects of climate change, natural disaster, fire or explosion, terrorism, pandemics (such as the COVID-19 pandemic), strikes, government action, geopolitical turmoil, or other reasons beyond our control or the control of our suppliers and business partners, could impair our ability to manufacture or sell our products. Failure to take adequate steps to mitigate the likelihood or potential impact of such events, or to effectively manage such events if they occur, particularly when a product is sourced from a single supplier or location, could adversely affect our business or financial results. In addition, disputes with significant suppliers, including disputes regarding pricing or performance, could adversely affect our ability to supply products to our customers and could materially and adversely affect our product sales, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

In particular, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential impact on our supply chain and our consolidated results of operations. Although our products are manufactured in North America and we source the significant majority of our ingredients and raw materials from North America, due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply has at time been and may continue to be constrained, which has caused and may continue to cause the price of certain ingredients and raw materials used in our products to increase and/or we may experience disruptions to our operations.

 

Additionally, although we are a North American company with no operations in our direct exposure to Russia and Ukraine, we have experienced shortages in materials and increased costs for transportation, energy, and raw material due in part to the negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict on the global economy. To date, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has not had a material impact on our business, financial condition, or results of operations, but continued geopolitical turmoil, including expansion of the Russia-Ukraine conflict into other countries, or conflicts in other parts of the world, may negatively impact our supply chain and our ability to manufacture or sell our products.

 

The termination or expiration of current co-manufacturing arrangements could reduce our sales volume and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

Our businesses periodically enter into co-manufacturing arrangements with manufacturers of products. The terms of these agreements vary. Although many agreements are for a relatively short period of time, some of the co-manufacturing agreements are for extended periods. Volumes produced under each of these agreements can fluctuate significantly based upon the product's life cycle, product promotions, alternative production capacity, and other factors, none of which are under our direct control. Our future ability to enter into co-manufacturing arrangements is not guaranteed, and a decrease in current co-manufacturing levels could have a significant negative impact on sales volume.

 

As we outsource certain functions, we become more dependent on the third parties performing those functions.

 

As part of a concerted effort to achieve cost savings and efficiencies, we have entered into agreements with third-party service providers under which we have outsourced certain information systems, sales, finance, accounting, and other functions, and we may enter into managed services agreements with respect to other functions in the future. If any of these third-party service providers do not perform according to the terms of the agreements, or if we fail to adequately monitor their performance, we may not be able to achieve the expected cost savings or we may have to incur additional costs to correct errors made by such service providers, and our reputation could be harmed. Depending on the function involved, such errors may also lead to business interruption, damage or disruption of information technology systems, processing inefficiencies, the loss of or damage to intellectual property or non-public company sensitive information, effects on financial reporting, litigation or remediation costs, or damage to our reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

If any of our third-party service providers experience a cyber breach or system failure, their businesses could be negatively impacted, and it may result in disruption to our end-to-end supply chain or affect our ability to fulfill customer orders, both of which could have a material adverse effect on our business. If our third-party service providers do not respond or perform effectively in connection with a cyber breach or system failure, our business may be impacted. In addition, if we transition functions to one or more new, or among existing, external service providers, we may experience challenges that could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition.

 

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Our operations are dependent on a wide array of third parties.

 

The success of our end-to-end supply chain relies on the continued performance of a wide array of third parties. Suppliers, co-manufacturers, third-party outsourcers, warehousing partners, and transportation providers are among our critical partners. Although we take steps to qualify and audit third parties with whom we do business, we cannot guarantee that all third parties will perform dependably or at all. It is possible that events beyond our control, such as operational failures, labor issues, cybersecurity events, pandemics or other health issues, such as COVID-19, or other issues could impact our unaffiliated third parties. If our third parties fail to deliver on their commitments, introduce unplanned risk to our operations (e.g., through cyber activity), or are unable to fulfill their obligations, we could experience manufacturing challenges, shipment delays, increased costs, or lost revenue.

 

Legal, Regulatory, and Environmental Risks

 

If we fail to comply with the many laws applicable to our business, we may face lawsuits or incur significant fines and penalties. In addition, changes in such laws may lead to increased costs.

 

Our business is subject to a variety of governmental laws and regulations, including food and drug laws, environmental laws, laws related to advertising and marketing practices, accounting standards, taxation requirements, competition laws, employment laws, data privacy laws, and anti-corruption laws, among others, in and outside of the United States. Our operations are subject to various laws and regulations administered by federal, state, local and foreign government agencies, including, but not limited to, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Federal Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Labor. In particular, the processing, packaging, transportation, storage, distribution, advertising, labeling, quality, and safety of food products, the health and safety of our employees, and the protection of the environment are each subject to governmental regulation. Additionally, we are subject to data privacy and security regulations, tax and securities regulations, accounting and reporting standards, and other financial laws and regulations. Our failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations could subject us to lawsuits, administrative penalties, and civil remedies, including fines, injunctions, and recalls of our products. In addition, changes in applicable laws and regulations, including changes in taxation requirements and new or increased tariffs on products imported from certain countries, may lead to increased costs and could negatively affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our operations are also subject to extensive and increasingly stringent regulations administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which pertain to the discharge of materials into the environment and the handling and disposition of wastes. Failure to comply with these regulations can have serious consequences, including civil and administrative penalties and negative publicity. Changes in applicable laws or regulations or evolving interpretations thereof, including increased government regulations to limit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions as a result of concern over climate change, may result in increased compliance costs, capital expenditures, and other financial obligations for us, which could affect our profitability or impede the production or distribution of our products, and affect our net operating revenues.

 

Climate change, or legal, regulatory, or market measures to address climate change, may negatively affect our business and operations.

 

There is growing concern that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may have an adverse impact on global temperatures, weather patterns, and the frequency and severity of extreme weather and natural disasters. In the event that such climate change has a negative effect on agricultural productivity, we may be subject to decreased availability or less favorable pricing for certain commodities that are necessary for our products, such as wheat, tomatoes, and a wide array of vegetables. Adverse weather conditions and natural disasters can reduce crop size and crop quality, which in turn could reduce our supplies of raw materials, lower recoveries of usable raw materials, increase the prices of our raw materials, increase our cost of transporting and storing raw materials, or disrupt our production schedules.

 

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We may also be subjected to decreased availability or less favorable pricing for water as a result of such change, which could impact our manufacturing and distribution operations. In addition, natural disasters and extreme weather conditions may disrupt the productivity of our facilities or the operation of our supply chain. The increasing concern over climate change also may result in more regional, federal, and/or global legal and regulatory requirements to reduce or mitigate the effects of greenhouse gases. In the event that such regulation is enacted and is more aggressive than the climate risk mitigation measures that we are currently undertaking to monitor our emissions and improve our energy efficiency, we may experience significant increases in our costs of operation and delivery. In particular, increasing regulation of fuel emissions could substantially increase the distribution and supply chain costs associated with our products. Additionally, while we continue to take important steps to strive toward mitigation of climate risk and impact on climate change, transitioning our business to adapt to and comply with evolving policy, legal, and regulatory changes may impose substantial operational and compliance burdens. As a result, climate change could negatively affect our business and operations.

 

From time to time, we establish strategies and expectations related to climate change and other environmental matters. Our ability to achieve any such strategies or expectations is subject to numerous factors and conditions, many of which are outside of our control. Examples of such factors include, but are not limited to, evolving regulatory and other standards, processes, and assumptions, the pace of scientific and technological developments, increased costs and the availability of requisite financing, market trends that may alter business opportunities, the conduct of third-party manufacturers and suppliers, constraint or disruptions our supply chain, and changes in carbon markets. Failures or delays (whether actual or perceived) in achieving our strategies or expectations related to climate change and other environmental matters could adversely affect our business, operations, and reputation, and increase risk of litigation.

 

Cybersecurity and Information Technology Risks

 

Our business operations could be disrupted if our information technology systems fail to perform adequately.

 

We rely on information technology networks and systems, including the Internet, to process, transmit, and store information, to manage and support a variety of business processes and activities, and to comply with regulatory, legal, and tax requirements. Our information technology systems, some of which are dependent on services provided by third parties, may be vulnerable to damage, interruption, or shutdown due to any number of causes outside of our control such as catastrophic events, natural disasters, fires, power outages, systems failures, telecommunications failures, employee error or malfeasance, security breaches, computer viruses or other malicious codes, ransomware, unauthorized access attempts, denial of service attacks, phishing, hacking, and other cyberattacks. While we have experienced threats to our data and systems, to date, we are not aware that we have experienced a material breach. Cyberattacks are occurring more frequently, are constantly evolving in nature and are becoming more sophisticated. Additionally, continued geopolitical turmoil, including the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, has heightened the risk of cyberattacks. While we attempt to continuously monitor and mitigate against cyber risks, including through leveraging multi-sourced threat intelligence, investing in new technologies, and developing third-party cybersecurity risk management capability in support of strategic suppliers, we may incur significant costs in protecting against or remediating cyberattacks or other cyber incidents.

 

Sophisticated cybersecurity threats pose a potential risk to the security and viability of our information technology systems, as well as the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data stored on those systems, including cloud-based platforms. In addition, new technology that could result in greater operational efficiency may further expose our computer systems to the risk of cyber-attacks. If we do not allocate and effectively manage the resources necessary to build and sustain the proper technology infrastructure and associated automated and manual control processes, we could be subject to billing and collection errors, business disruptions, or damage resulting from security breaches. If any of our significant information technology systems suffer severe damage, disruption, or shutdown, and our business continuity plans do not effectively resolve the issues in a timely manner, our product sales, financial condition, and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected, and we could experience delays in reporting our financial results. In addition, there is a risk of business interruption, violation of data privacy laws and regulations, litigation, and reputational damage from leakage of confidential information. Any interruption of our information technology systems could have operational, reputational, legal, and financial impacts that may have a material adverse effect on our business.

 

Additionally, we regularly move data across national borders to conduct our operations and, consequently, are subject to a variety of laws and regulations in the United States and other jurisdictions regarding privacy, data protection, and data security, including those related to the collection, storage, handling, use, disclosure, transfer, and security of personal data, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation. Our efforts to comply with privacy and data protection laws may impose significant costs and challenges that are likely to increase over time.

 

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Employee Risks

 

We rely on our management team and other key personnel.

 

We depend on the skills, working relationships, and continued services of key personnel, including our experienced management team. In addition, our ability to achieve our operating goals depends on our ability to identify, hire, train, and retain qualified individuals. If key employees terminate their employment, including by becoming ill as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our business activities may be adversely affected. Our business activities may also be adversely affected if we are unable to locate suitable replacements for any key employees who leave or offer employment to potential replacements on reasonable terms.

 

We compete with other companies both within and outside of our industry for talented personnel. If we do not successfully compete for the best talent, our business activities may be adversely affected.

 

A number of factors may adversely affect the labor force available to us or increase labor costs, including high employment levels, federal unemployment subsidies, including unemployment benefits offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other government regulations, unemployment programs, and volatility in general macroeconomic factors impacting the labor market. Although we have not experienced any material labor shortage to date, we have recently observed an overall tightening and increasingly competitive labor market. A sustained labor shortage or increased turnover rates within our employee base (or within the employee base of key suppliers or third-party manufacturers), could negatively affect our supply chain or our ability to efficiently operate our manufacturing and distribution facilities and overall business.

 

Our results could be adversely impacted as a result of increased pension, labor, and people-related expenses.

 

Our labor costs include wages and the cost of providing employee benefits including pension, health and welfare, and severance benefits. The annual cost of providing these benefits varies as a result of factors such as the availability of skilled labor, the costs of health care, and the outcome of collectively bargained wage and benefit agreements. In addition, changes in interest rates, mortality rates, health care costs, early retirement rates, investment returns, and the market value of plan assets can affect the funded status of our defined benefit plans and cause volatility in the future funding requirements of the plans. A significant increase in our wage and benefit costs, pension obligations, or future funding requirements could have a negative impact on our results of operations and cash flows from operations.

 

Goodwill or Other Intangible Assets Risks

 

Impairment in the carrying value of goodwill or other intangibles could result in the incurrence of impairment charges and negatively impact our net worth.

 

As of May 29, 2022, we had goodwill of $11.33 billion and other intangibles of $3.85 billion. The net carrying value of goodwill represents the fair value of acquired businesses in excess of identifiable assets and liabilities as of the acquisition date (or subsequent impairment date, if applicable). The net carrying value of other intangibles represents the fair value of trademarks, customer relationships, and other acquired intangibles as of the acquisition date (or subsequent impairment date, if applicable), net of accumulated amortization. Goodwill and other acquired intangibles expected to contribute indefinitely to our cash flows are not amortized, but must be evaluated by management at least annually for impairment. Amortized intangible assets are evaluated for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstance indicate that the carrying amounts of these assets may not be recoverable. Impairments to goodwill and other intangible assets may be caused by factors outside our control, such as the inability to quickly replace lost co-manufacturing business, increasing competitive pricing pressures, lower than expected revenue and profit growth rates, changes in industry EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) multiples, changes in discount rates based on changes in cost of capital (interest rates, etc.), or the bankruptcy of a significant customer. Any impairment to goodwill or other intangible assets could negatively impact our net worth.

 

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Intellectual Property Risks

 

Our intellectual property rights are valuable, and any inability to protect them could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

Our intellectual property rights, including our trademarks, licensing agreements, trade secrets, patents, and copyrights, are a significant and valuable aspect of our business. We attempt to protect our intellectual property rights by pursuing remedies available to us under trademark, copyright, trade secret, and patent laws, as well as entering into licensing, third-party nondisclosure and assignment agreements and policing of third-party misuses of our intellectual property. If we fail to adequately protect the intellectual property rights we have now or may acquire in the future, or if there occurs any change in law or otherwise that serves to reduce or remove the current legal protections of our intellectual property, then our financial results could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Certain of our intellectual property rights, including the P.F. Chang's®, Bertolli®, and Libby's® trademarks, are owned by third parties and licensed to us, and others, such as Alexia®, are owned by us and licensed to third parties. While many of these licensing arrangements are perpetual in nature, others must be periodically renegotiated or renewed pursuant to their terms. If in the future we are unable to renew such a licensing arrangement pursuant to its terms and conditions, or if we fail to renegotiate such a licensing arrangement, then our financial results could be materially and adversely affected.

 

There is also a risk that other parties may have intellectual property rights covering some of our brands, products, or technology. If any third parties bring a claim of intellectual property infringement against us, we may be subject to costly and time-consuming litigation, diverting the attention of management and our employees. If we are unsuccessful in defending against such claims, we may be subject to, among other things, significant damages, injunctions against development and sale of certain products, or we may be required to enter into costly licensing agreements, any of which could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

 

ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

 

None.

 

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

 

Our headquarters are located in Chicago, Illinois. Other general offices, shared service centers, and product development facilities are located in Nebraska and the District of Columbia. We also lease a limited number of domestic sales offices. International general offices are located in Canada, China, Mexico, Panama, and the Philippines.

 

We maintain a number of stand-alone distribution facilities. In addition, there are warehouses at most of our manufacturing facilities.

 

Utilization of manufacturing capacity varies by manufacturing plant based upon the type of products assigned and the level of demand for those products. Management believes that our manufacturing and processing plants are well maintained and are generally adequate to support the current operations of the business.

 

As of July 21, 2022, we had thirty-eight domestic manufacturing facilities located in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. We also have international manufacturing facilities in Canada and Mexico, and interests in the ownership of international manufacturing facilities in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Mexico.

 

We own most of our manufacturing facilities. However, a limited number of plants and parcels of land with the related manufacturing equipment are leased. Substantially all of our transportation equipment and forward-positioned distribution centers containing finished goods are leased or operated by third parties.

 

The majority of our manufacturing assets are shared across multiple reporting segments. Output from these facilities used by each reporting segment can change over time. Therefore, it is impracticable to disclose them by segment.

 

19

 

 

ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

 

For information on legal proceedings, please refer to Note 15 "Contingencies," to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

 

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

 

Not applicable.

 

20

 

 

PART II

 

ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS, AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

 

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, where it trades under the ticker symbol: CAG. At June 26, 2022, there were approximately 13,513 stockholders of record.

 

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

 

No shares of common stock were purchased during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

 

ITEM 6. [RESERVED]

 

The Company adopted the amendment to Item 301 of Regulation S-K and is no longer required to provide five years of selected financial data.

 

21

 

 

ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

 

The following discussion and analysis is intended to provide a summary of significant factors relevant to our financial performance and condition. The discussion and analysis should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes in Item 8, Financial Statements and Supplementary Data. Results for the fiscal year ended May 29, 2022 are not necessarily indicative of results that may be attained in the future.

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

 

The information contained in this report includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. Examples of forward-looking statements include statements regarding our expected future financial performance or position, results of operations, business strategy, plans and objectives of management for future operations, and other statements that are not historical facts. You can identify forward-looking statements by their use of forward-looking words, such as "may", "will", "anticipate", "expect", "believe", "estimate", "intend", "plan", "should", "seek", or comparable terms.

 

Readers of this report should understand that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance or results. Forward-looking statements provide our current expectations and beliefs concerning future events and are subject to risks, uncertainties, and factors relating to our business and operations, all of which are difficult to predict and could cause our actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and factors include, among other things: the risk that the cost savings and any other synergies from the acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, Inc. (the "Pinnacle acquisition") may not be fully realized or may take longer to realize than expected; the risk that the Pinnacle acquisition may not be accretive within the expected timeframe or to the extent anticipated; the risks that the Pinnacle acquisition and related integration will create disruption to the Company and its management and impede the achievement of business plans; risks related to our ability to achieve the intended benefits of other recent acquisitions and divestitures; risks associated with general economic and industry conditions; risks associated with our ability to successfully execute our long-term value creation strategies; risks related to our ability to deleverage on currently anticipated timelines, and to continue to access capital on acceptable terms or at all; risks related to our ability to execute operating and restructuring plans and achieve targeted operating efficiencies from cost-saving initiatives, and to benefit from trade optimization programs; risks related to the effectiveness of our hedging activities and ability to respond to volatility in commodities; risks related to the Company's competitive environment and related market conditions; risks related to our ability to respond to changing consumer preferences and the success of our innovation and marketing investments; risks related to the ultimate impact of any product recalls and litigation, including litigation related to the lead paint and pigment matters, as well as any securities litigation, including securities class action lawsuits; risk associated with actions of governments and regulatory bodies that affect our businesses, including the ultimate impact of new or revised regulations or interpretations; risks related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, suppliers, consumers, customers, and employees; risks related to our forecasts of consumer eat-at-home habits as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic abate; risks related to the availability and prices of supply chain resources, including raw materials, packaging, and transportation, including any negative effects caused by changes in inflation rates, weather conditions, health pandemics or outbreaks of disease, actual or threatened hostilities or war, or other geopolitical uncertainty; disruptions or inefficiencies in our supply chain and/or operations, including from the COVID-19 pandemic; risks related to disruptions in the global economy caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine; risks associated with actions by our customers, including changes in distribution and purchasing terms; risks and uncertainties associated with intangible assets, including any future goodwill or intangible assets impairment charges; risks related to a material failure in or breach of our or our vendors' information technology systems; the amount and timing of future dividends, which remain subject to Board approval and depend on market and other conditions; risks related to the Company’s ability to execute on its strategies or achieve expectations related to environmental, social, and governance matters, including as a result of evolving legal, regulatory, and other standards processes, and assumptions, the pace of scientific and technological developments, increased costs, the availability of  requisite financing, and changes in carbon markets; and other risks described in our reports filed from time to time with the SEC. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements included in this report, which speak only as of the date of this report. We undertake no responsibility to update these statements, except as required by law.

 

The discussion that follows should be read together with the consolidated financial statements and related notes contained in this report. Results for fiscal 2022 are not necessarily indicative of results that may be attained in the future.

 

22

 

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

 

Conagra Brands, headquartered in Chicago, is one of North America's leading branded food companies. Guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, the Company combines a rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation. The Company's portfolio is evolving to satisfy people's changing food preferences. Its iconic brands such as Birds Eye®, Marie Callender's®, Banquet®Healthy Choice®, Slim Jim®, Reddi-wip®, and Vlasic®, as well as emerging brands, including Angie's® BOOMCHICKAPOP®, Duke's®, Earth Balance®, Gardein®, and Frontera®, offer choices for every occasion.

 

Fiscal 2022 Results

 

Fiscal 2022 performance compared to fiscal 2021 reflected an increase in net sales, with organic (excludes the impacts of foreign exchange and divested businesses) increases in all of our operating segments. Overall gross profit decreased primarily as a result of input cost inflation, higher transportation costs, elevated supply chain operating costs due, in part, to disruptions in the availability of labor and certain materials, and lost profits from divested businesses, which were partially offset by higher organic net sales, supply chain realized productivity, cost synergies associated with the Pinnacle acquisition, and lower COVID-19 pandemic-related expenses. Overall segment operating profit decreased in all of our operating segments. Corporate expenses were lower primarily due to items impacting comparability, as discussed below, in addition to lower share-based payment and deferred compensation expense. Selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expenses were higher primarily due to items impacting comparability, partially offset by lower advertising and promotional expenses. We recognized higher equity method investment earnings, lower interest expense, higher income tax expense, in each case compared to fiscal 2021. Excluding items impacting comparability, our effective tax rate was slightly higher compared to fiscal 2021.

 

Diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2022 were $1.84. Diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2021 were $2.66. Diluted earnings per share were affected by lower net income as well as several significant items affecting the comparability of year-over-year results of continuing operations (see "Items Impacting Comparability" below).

 

During fiscal 2022, we experienced higher than expected input cost inflation, including higher transportation and supply chain costs, that negatively impacted gross margins. We expect input cost inflation to persist in fiscal 2023. Supply chain realized productivity and pricing actions will mitigate some of the inflationary pressures and are expected to improve margins more heavily in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2023. As our estimates of inflation for fiscal 2023 continue to change, it is impractical to quantify the impact at this time.

 

Although we are a North American focused company with no operations in or direct exposure to Russia and Ukraine, we have experienced shortages in materials and increased costs for transportation, energy, and raw materials due in part to the negative impact of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict on the global economy. To date, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has not had a material impact on our business, financial condition, or result of operations.

 

Items Impacting Comparability

 

Items of note impacting comparability of results for continuing operations for fiscal 2022 included the following:

 

 

charges totaling $209.0 million ($159.0 million after-tax and net of noncontrolling interest) related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets,

 

 

charges totaling $70.1 million ($60.4 million after-tax) related to the impairment of businesses held for sale,

 

 

charges totaling $49.0 million ($36.9 million after-tax) in connection with our restructuring plans,

 

 

tax expense of $25.0 million related to certain tax elections made in connection with filing our fiscal 2021 tax return, for which any associated tax benefits are still under review with the IRS,

 

 

an income tax benefit of $16.1 million related to the settlement of certain tax matters that were previously reserved and a release of valuation allowance on certain foreign tax credit carryforwards,

 

 

a gain of $19.6 million ($14.8 million after-tax) related to two favorable legal settlements,

 

 

charges of $11.3 million ($8.5 million after-tax) associated with fires occurring at two of our manufacturing facilities,

 

23

 

 

a gain of $6.5 million ($5.0 million after-tax) related to a settlement of a legacy environmental matter, and

 

 

a gain of $3.3 million ($2.8 million after-tax) related to proceeds received from the sale of a legacy investment.

 

Items of note impacting comparability of results from continuing operations for fiscal 2021 included the following:

 

 

a non-cash income tax benefit of $115.6 million associated with a restructuring of our ownership interest in the Ardent Mills joint venture, which primarily relates to a release of a valuation allowance due to the generation of capital gains,

 

 

charges totaling $90.9 million ($69.9 million after-tax) related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets,

 

 

charges totaling $77.9 million ($58.3 million after-tax) in connection with our restructuring plans,

 

 

charges totaling $68.7 million ($51.5 million after-tax) related to the early extinguishment of debt,

 

 

a gain of $65.5 million ($34.5 million after-tax) associated with the divestiture of certain businesses,

 

 

an income tax benefit of $37.0 million related to a release of valuation allowance associated with the divestiture of certain businesses,

 

 

an income tax benefit of $7.6 million related to certain final tax regulations on prior year federal tax matters,

 

 

consulting expenses totaling $7.2 million ($5.4 million after-tax) primarily associated with securing tax benefits for a new production facility (the associated tax benefits will be recognized in future periods),

 

 

a loss of $7.1 million ($5.3 million after-tax) related to the early exit of an unfavorable contract associated with a recent divestiture, and

 

 

charges totaling $5.7 million ($4.3 million after-tax) associated with costs incurred for acquisitions and divestitures.

 

Segment presentation of gains and losses from derivatives used for economic hedging of anticipated commodity input costs and economic hedging of foreign currency exchange rate risks of anticipated transactions are discussed in the segment review below.

 

Divestitures

 

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, we completed the sale of our Egg Beaters® business for net proceeds of $50.7 million. The results of operations of the divested Egg Beaters® business were primarily included in our Refrigerated & Frozen segment, and to a lesser extent within our International and Foodservice segments, for the periods preceding the completion of the transaction.

 

During the third quarter of fiscal 2021, we completed the sale of our Peter Pan® peanut butter business for net proceeds of $101.5 million. The results of operations of the divested Peter Pan® peanut butter business were primarily included in our Grocery & Snacks segment, and to a lesser extent within our International and Foodservice segments, for the periods preceding the completion of the transaction.

 

During the third quarter of fiscal 2020, we completed the sale of our Lenders® bagel business for net proceeds of $33.3 million. The results of operations of the divested Lender's® bagel business were primarily included in our Refrigerated & Frozen segment, and to a lesser extent within our Foodservice segment, for the periods preceding the completion of this transaction.

 

During the second quarter of fiscal 2020, we completed the sale of our Direct Store Delivery ("DSD") snacks business, for net proceeds of $137.5 million. The results of operations of the divested DSD snacks business were included in our Grocery & Snacks segment for the periods preceding the completion of the transaction.

 

24

 

Restructuring Plans

 

In December 2018, the Board approved a restructuring and integration plan related to the ongoing integration of the operations of Pinnacle (such plan the "Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan"), for the purpose of achieving significant cost synergies between the companies, as a result of which we expect to incur material charges for exit and disposal activities under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("U.S. GAAP"). We expect to incur approximately $346.9 million of charges ($284.3 million of cash charges and $62.6 million of non-cash charges) for actions identified to date under the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan. The Board and/or our senior management have authorized incurrence of these charges. We recognized charges of $19.6 million, $31.7 million, and $73.8 million in connection with the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. We expect to incur costs related to the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan over a multi-year period.

 

In fiscal 2019, senior management initiated a restructuring plan for costs incurred in connection with actions taken to improve SG&A expense effectiveness and efficiencies and to optimize our supply chain network (the "Conagra Restructuring Plan"). Although we remain unable to make good faith estimates relating to the entire Conagra Restructuring Plan, we are reporting on actions initiated through the end of fiscal 2022, including the estimated amounts or range of amounts for each major type of cost expected to be incurred, and the charges that have resulted or will result in cash outflows. As of May 29, 2022, we had approved the incurrence of $180.6 million ($53.8 million of cash charges and $126.8 million of non-cash charges) for several projects associated with the Conagra Restructuring Plan. We have incurred or expect to incur $148.4 million of charges ($46.4 million of cash charges and $102.0 million of non-cash charges) for actions identified to date under the Conagra Restructuring Plan. We recognized charges of $29.4 million, $46.2 million, and $64.4 million in connection with the Conagra Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. We expect to incur costs related to the Conagra Restructuring Plan over a multi-year period.

 

COVID-19 Pandemic

 

We continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all aspects of our business. Throughout fiscal 2022, we continued to experience elevated demand for our products in the retail segments versus pre-pandemic levels, but volumes were lower compared to fiscal 2021, primarily due to the elasticity impact from inflation-driven pricing actions. We experienced higher demand for our foodservice products across all of our major markets during fiscal 2022 compared to fiscal 2021 as consumer traffic in away-from-home food outlets continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. We incurred $69.8 million of supply chain costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic during fiscal 2022, which was a decrease in comparison to fiscal 2021.

 

As we continue into fiscal 2023, we generally expect retail demand levels to remain elevated versus pre-pandemic levels and we continue to expect foodservice demand levels to return to more historical norms. However, uncertainty remains with the pandemic and such trends ultimately depend on the length and severity of the pandemic, inclusive of the introduction of new strains and variants of the virus; infection rates in the markets where we do business; the federal, state, and local government actions taken in response; vaccine effectiveness; and the macroeconomic environment. In fiscal 2023, we continue to expect to see inflationary headwinds but anticipate that gross margins will begin to benefit from sales price increases and other cost savings measures. We also continue to expect a decrease in costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a decrease in supply chain costs as we focus on realized productivity initiatives. We will continue to evaluate the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our business, consolidated results of operations, and financial condition.

 

We have experienced some challenges in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, including with respect to the supply of our ingredients, packaging, or other sourced materials. Despite these challenges, all of our production facilities remain open. We cannot predict the ultimate COVID-19 impact on our suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers.

 

SEGMENT REVIEW

 

We reflect our results of operations in four reporting segments: Grocery & Snacks, Refrigerated & Frozen, International, and Foodservice.

 

Grocery & Snacks

 

The Grocery & Snacks reporting segment principally includes branded, shelf-stable food products sold in various retail channels in the United States.

 

25

 

Refrigerated & Frozen

 

The Refrigerated & Frozen reporting segment principally includes branded, temperature-controlled food products sold in various retail channels in the United States.

 

International

 

The International reporting segment principally includes branded food products, in various temperature states, sold in various retail and foodservice channels outside of the United States.

 

Foodservice

 

The Foodservice reporting segment includes branded and customized food products, including meals, entrees, sauces, and a variety of custom-manufactured culinary products that are packaged for sale to restaurants and other foodservice establishments primarily in the United States.

 

Presentation of Derivative Gains (Losses) from Economic Hedges of Forecasted Cash Flows in Segment Results

 

Derivatives used to manage commodity price risk and foreign currency risk are not designated for hedge accounting treatment. We believe these derivatives provide economic hedges of certain forecasted transactions. As such, these derivatives are generally recognized at fair market value with realized and unrealized gains and losses recognized in general corporate expenses. The gains and losses are subsequently recognized in the operating results of the reporting segments in the period in which the underlying transaction being economically hedged is included in earnings. In the event that management determines a particular derivative entered into as an economic hedge of a forecasted commodity purchase has ceased to function as an economic hedge, we cease recognizing further gains and losses on such derivatives in corporate expense and begin recognizing such gains and losses within segment operating results, immediately. See Note 19 "Business Segments and Related Information", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report for further discussion.

 

Presentation of Information

 

Below is a detailed discussion and comparison of our results of operations for the fiscal years ended May 29, 2022 and May 30, 2021. For a discussion of changes from the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020 to the fiscal year ended May 30, 2021, refer to Part II, Item 7, Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended May 30, 2021 (filed July 23, 2021).

 

Fiscal 2022 compared to Fiscal 2021

 

Net Sales

 

($ in millions)

 

Fiscal 2022

   

Fiscal 2021

   

% Inc

 

Reporting Segment

 

Net Sales

   

Net Sales

   

(Dec)

 

Grocery & Snacks

  $ 4,697.4     $ 4,624.7       2 %

Refrigerated & Frozen

    4,859.3       4,774.6       2 %

International

    970.8       938.6       3 %

Foodservice

    1,008.4       846.8       19 %

Total

  $ 11,535.9     $ 11,184.7       3 %

 

Net sales for fiscal 2022 in our Grocery & Snacks segment included a decrease in volumes of 4%, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to the prior-year period. This result was primarily due to lapping the prior year's surge in at-home food consumption from the COVID-19 pandemic and replenishment of customer inventory levels in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the elasticity impact from inflation-driven pricing actions. Price/mix increased 7%, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to the prior-year period due to favorability in inflation-driven pricing coupled with favorable brand mix, partially offset by a benefit in the prior-year period of $7.4 million related to a change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. Fiscal 2021 included $34.7 million of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business, which was sold in the third quarter of fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2021 included $3.6 million of net sales related to our H.K. Anderson® business, which was sold in the second quarter of fiscal 2021. 

 

26

 

Net sales for fiscal 2022 in our Refrigerated & Frozen segment included a decrease in volumes of 5%, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to fiscal 2021. The decrease in sales volumes was primarily due to lapping the prior year's surge in at-home food consumption from the COVID-19 pandemic and replenishment of inventory levels in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the elasticity impact from inflation-driven pricing actions and supply constraints. Price/mix increased 8% for fiscal 2022, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to fiscal 2021 primarily driven by favorability in inflation-driven pricing coupled with favorable brand mix, partially offset by a benefit in the prior-year period of $7.4 million related to a change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. Fiscal 2021 included $40.8 million of net sales related to our Egg Beaters® business, which was sold in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. 

 

Net sales for fiscal 2022 in our International segment reflected a 5% decrease in volumes, a 2% increase due to favorable foreign exchange rates, and a 7% increase in price/mix, excluding the impact of divestitures, in each case compared to fiscal 2021. The decrease in volumes was driven by lapping the prior year's surge in at-home food demand from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the elasticity impact from inflation-driven pricing actions. The increase in price/mix was primarily due to favorability in inflation-driven pricing and favorable product mix, partially offset by a benefit in the prior-year period of $2.8 million related to a change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. Fiscal 2021 included $1.4 million of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business.

 

Net sales for fiscal 2022 in our Foodservice segment included an increase in volumes of 11%, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to the prior-year period. The increase in volume reflected the continued recovery of away-from-home food outlets from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by the elasticity impact from inflation-driven pricing actions. Price/mix, excluding the impact of divestitures, increased 8% in fiscal 2022 compared to fiscal 2021, reflecting inflation-driven pricing and favorable product mix. Fiscal 2021 included $1.0 million and $0.6 million of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business and H.K. Anderson® business, respectively.  

 

SG&A Expenses (Includes general corporate expenses)

 

SG&A expenses totaled $1.49 billion for fiscal 2022, an increase of $89.8 million compared to fiscal 2021. SG&A expenses for fiscal 2022 reflected the following:

 

Items impacting comparability of earnings

 

 

charges totaling $209.0 million related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets,

 

 

charges totaling $70.1 million related to the impairment of businesses held for sale,

 

 

net charges of $27.2 million in connection with our restructuring plans,

 

 

a gain of $19.6 million related to two favorable legal settlements,

 

 

a gain of $6.5 million related to a settlement of a legacy environmental matter,

 

 

a gain of $3.3 million related to the sale of a legacy investment,

 

 

charges of $2.8 million associated with consulting fees for certain tax matters,

 

 

charges of $2.4 million associated with costs incurred for planned divestitures, and

 

 

charges of $2.2 million associated with fires occurring at two of our manufacturing facilities.

 

Other changes in expenses compared to fiscal 2021

 

 

a decrease in share-based payment and deferred compensation expense of $58.0 million, due to market declines, a reduction of estimated level of achievement of certain performance targets, and a decrease in our share price,

 

 

an increase in salary, wage, and fringe benefit expense of $19.8 million,

 

 

a decrease in advertising and promotion expense of $13.4 million driven by lapping increased investment in the prior year period,

 

27

 

 

a decrease in incentive compensation expense of $13.1 million, due to exceeding certain performance targets in the prior year period,

 

 

an increase of $10.6 million in foreign currency transaction gains/losses, primarily due to prior year gains on remeasuring certain intercompany notes payable,

 

 

an increase of $10.2 million in self-insurance expense due to favorable claim development in the prior year,

 

 

a decrease in consulting and professional fees of $8.2 million,

 

 

an increase in information technology-related expenses of $8.0 million,

 

 

a decrease of $5.9 million in commission expense due to our transition away from certain third-party brokers, and

 

 

an increase in travel and entertainment expense of $5.7 million.

 

SG&A expenses for fiscal 2021 included the following items impacting the comparability of earnings:

 

 

charges of $90.9 million related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets,

 

 

charges of $68.7 million associated with the early extinguishment of debt,

 

 

gains totaling $65.5 million related to divestitures of certain businesses,

 

 

net charges of $40.8 million in connection with our restructuring plans,

 

 

consulting expenses of $7.2 million primarily associated with securing tax benefits for a new production facility (the associated tax benefits will be recognized in future periods),

 

 

a loss of $7.1 million related to the early exit of an unfavorable contract associated with a recent divestiture,

 

 

charges of $5.7 million associated with costs incurred for acquisitions and divestitures, and

 

 

a net expense of $2.6 million related to a previous legal matter.

 

Segment Operating Profit (Earnings before general corporate expenses, pension and postretirement non-service income, interest expense, net, income taxes, and equity method investment earnings)

 

($ in millions)

 

Fiscal 2022

   

Fiscal 2021

   

% Inc

 

Reporting Segment

 

Operating Profit

   

Operating Profit

   

(Dec)

 

Grocery & Snacks

  $ 859.5     $ 1,092.7       (21 )%

Refrigerated & Frozen

    561.1       836.5       (33 )%

International

    106.7       131.8       (19 )%

Foodservice

    60.3       80.0       (25 )%

 

28

 

Operating profit in our Grocery & Snacks segment for fiscal 2022 reflected a decrease in gross profits of $94.0 million compared to fiscal 2021. The lower gross profit was driven by the impacts of input cost inflation, higher inventory write-offs, unfavorable fixed cost leverage, elevated supply chain operating costs due, in part, to disruptions in the availability of labor and certain materials, and a reduction in profit associated with the divestitures of our H.K. Anderson® and Peter Pan® peanut butter businesses, partially offset by the benefits of supply chain realized productivity, cost synergies associated with the Pinnacle acquisition, and a decrease in COVID-19 pandemic-related costs. Pandemic-related costs included investments in employee safety protocols, bonuses paid to supply chain employees, and costs necessary to meet elevated levels of demand. Operating profit of the Grocery & Snacks segment was impacted by charges of $9.4 million and $27.8 million related to our restructuring plans in fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively. Fiscal 2022 and 2021 included certain brand intangible impairment charges of $90.7 million and $13.0 million, respectively. Fiscal 2022 included charges of $26.3 million related to the impairment of businesses held for sale. Fiscal 2021 included gains totaling $55.1 million related to the divestitures of certain businesses. Advertising and promotion expenses for fiscal 2022 decreased by $6.0 million compared to fiscal 2021.

 

Operating profit in our Refrigerated & Frozen segment for fiscal 2022 reflected a decrease in gross profits of $231.5 million compared to fiscal 2021 due the impacts of input cost inflation, unfavorable fixed cost leverage, elevated supply chain operating costs due, in part, to disruptions in the availability of labor and certain materials, higher inventory write-offs, and a reduction in profit associated with the divestiture of our Egg Beaters® business, partially offset by the benefits of supply chain realized productivity, cost synergies associated with the Pinnacle acquisition, and a decrease in COVID-19 pandemic-related costs. Operating profit of the Refrigerated & Frozen segment was impacted by charges of $103.9 million and $76.9 million related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets during fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively. Fiscal 2022 and 2021 included $14.5 million and $26.8 million, respectively, of charges related to our restructuring plans. Operating profit of the Refrigerated & Frozen segment included $28.9 million of charges related to the impairment of businesses held for sale and charges of $2.8 million associated with a fire occurring at one of our manufacturing facilities in fiscal 2022. Fiscal 2021 also included a gain of $10.4 million related to the divestiture of our Egg Beater's® business, reduced by a loss of $7.1 million related to the early exit of an unfavorable contract associated with the divestiture. Advertising and promotion expenses for fiscal 2022 decreased by $8.1 million compared to fiscal 2021.

 

Operating profit in our International segment for fiscal 2022 reflected flat gross profits compared to fiscal 2021, reflecting the net sales growth discussed above and the benefits of supply chain realized productivity, partially offset by the impacts of input cost inflation. Operating profit of the International segment was impacted by charges of $14.4 million and $1.0 million related to the impairment of certain brand intangible assets during fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively.

 

Operating profit in our Foodservice segment for fiscal 2022 reflected a decrease in gross profits of $3.0 million compared to fiscal 2021 driven by input cost inflation, elevated supply chain operating costs due, in part, to disruptions in the availability of labor and certain materials, and higher inventory write-offs, which more than offset the net sales growth discussed above and the benefits of supply chain realized productivity. Fiscal 2022 included charges of $14.9 million related to the impairment of businesses held for sale and charges of $7.6 million associated with a fire occurring at one of our manufacturing facilities.

 

Pension and Postretirement Non-service Income

 

In fiscal 2022, pension and postretirement non-service income was $67.3 million, an increase of $12.8 million compared to fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2022 reflected lower interest costs and an increase in expected returns on plan assets.

 

Interest Expense, Net

 

In fiscal 2022, net interest expense was $379.9 million, a decrease of $40.5 million, or 10%, from fiscal 2021. The decrease was driven by a lower weighted average interest rate on outstanding debt. See Note 3, "Long-Term Debt", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report for further discussion.

 

Income Taxes

 

Our income tax expense was $290.5 million and $193.8 million in fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively. The effective tax rate (calculated as the ratio of income tax expense to pre-tax income from continuing operations, inclusive of equity method investment earnings) was approximately 25% and 13% for fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively. See Note 13, "Pre-Tax Income and Income Taxes", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report for a discussion on the change in effective tax rates.

 

29

 

In fiscal 2021, we completed a restructuring of our ownership interest in the Ardent Mills joint venture, a milling business ("Ardent Mills"), that utilized a portion of our capital loss carryforward prior to its expiration. After the restructuring, certain balance sheet adjustments on Ardent Mills may impact our effective tax rate in future periods. Also in fiscal 2021, we completed several other transactions related to retained assets in conjunction with the divestitures of the Peter Pan® peanut butter and Egg Beaters® businesses that we believe will utilize a portion of the remaining capital loss carryforward. These transactions were subject to elections made in connection with filing our fiscal 2021 federal tax return. These elections are still under review by the Internal Revenue Service. These elections may result in increases to the tax basis in those assets and if successful would result in tax benefits being realized in future periods.

 

We expect our effective tax rate in fiscal 2023, exclusive of any unusual transactions or tax events, to be approximately 24%.

 

Equity Method Investment Earnings

 

We include our share of the earnings of certain affiliates based on our economic ownership interest in the affiliates. Our most significant affiliate is the Ardent Mills joint venture. Our share of earnings from our equity method investment earnings were $145.3 million and $84.4 million for fiscal 2022 and 2021, respectively. Ardent Mills earnings for fiscal 2022 reflected the joint venture’s effective management through the recent volatility in the wheat markets.

 

Earnings Per Share

 

Diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2022 and 2021 were $1.84 and $2.66, respectively. The decrease in diluted earnings per share reflected lower net income. See "Items Impacting Comparability" above as several significant items affected the comparability of year-over-year results of operations.

 

 

LIQUIDITY AND CAPITAL RESOURCES

 

Sources of Liquidity and Capital

 

The primary objective of our financing strategy is to maintain a prudent capital structure that provides us flexibility to pursue our growth objectives. We use a combination of equity and short- and long-term debt. We use short-term debt principally to finance ongoing operations, including our seasonal requirements for working capital (accounts receivable, prepaid expenses and other current assets, and inventories, less accounts payable, accrued payroll, and other accrued liabilities). We are committed to maintaining solid investment grade credit ratings.

 

Management believes that existing cash balances, cash flows from operations, existing credit facilities, our commercial paper program, and access to capital markets will provide sufficient liquidity to meet our debt obligations, including any repayment of debt or refinancing of debt, working capital needs, planned capital expenditures, other contractual obligations, and payment of anticipated quarterly dividends for at least the next twelve months.

 

Borrowing Facilities and Long-Term Debt

 

At May 29, 2022, we had a revolving credit facility (the "Revolving Credit Facility") with a syndicate of financial institutions providing for a maximum aggregate principal amount outstanding at any one time of $1.6 billion (subject to increase to a maximum aggregate principal amount of $2.1 billion with the consent of the lenders). The Revolving Credit Facility matures on July 11, 2024 and is unsecured. The term of the Revolving Credit Facility may be extended for additional one-year or two-year periods from the then-applicable maturity date on an annual basis. In the first quarter of fiscal 2022, we entered into an amendment to the Revolving Credit Facility, which modified the ratio of funded debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization ("EBITDA") financial covenant to require a ratio of not greater than 4.5 to 1.0 on a rolling four-quarter basis. We have historically used a credit facility principally as a back-up for our commercial paper program. As of May 29, 2022, there were no outstanding borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility.

 

We had $180.0 million outstanding under our commercial paper program as of May 29, 2022, and $705.7 million outstanding as of May 30, 2021. The highest level of borrowings during fiscal 2022 was $989.0 million.  

 

During the first quarter of fiscal 2022, we issued $500.0 million aggregate principal amount of 0.500% senior notes due August 11, 2023. The proceeds were primarily used to refinance commercial paper borrowings.

 

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Additional information about our long-term debt balances as of May 29, 2022 can be found in Note 3, "Long-Term Debt", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report. The weighted-average coupon interest rate of the long-term debt obligations outstanding as of May 29, 2022, was approximately 4.4%.

 

We expect to maintain or have access to sufficient liquidity to retire or refinance long-term debt at maturity or otherwise, from operating cash flows, our commercial paper program, access to the capital markets, and our Revolving Credit Facility. We continuously evaluate opportunities to refinance our debt; however, any refinancing is subject to market conditions and other factors, including financing options that may be available to us from time to time, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully refinance any debt on commercially acceptable terms at all.

 

As of the end of fiscal 2022, our senior long-term debt ratings were all investment grade. A significant downgrade in our credit ratings would not affect our ability to borrow amounts under the Revolving Credit Facility, although borrowing costs would increase. A downgrade of our short-term credit ratings would impact our ability to borrow under our commercial paper program by negatively impacting borrowing costs and causing shorter durations, as well as making access to commercial paper more difficult, or impossible.

 

Our most restrictive debt agreement (the Revolving Credit Facility) generally requires our ratio of EBITDA to interest expense not be less than 3.0 to 1.0 and our ratio of funded debt to EBITDA not to exceed 4.5 to 1.0. Each ratio is to be calculated on a rolling four-quarter basis. As of May 29, 2022, we were in compliance with all financial covenants.

 

Equity and Dividends

 

We repurchase shares of our common stock from time to time after considering market conditions and in accordance with repurchase limits authorized by our Board. Under the share repurchase authorization, we may repurchase our shares periodically over several years, depending on market conditions and other factors, and may do so in open market purchases or privately negotiated transactions. The share repurchase authorization has no expiration date. During fiscal 2022, we repurchased 1.5 million shares of our common stock under this authorization for an aggregate of $50.0 million. The Company’s total remaining share repurchase authorization as of May 29, 2022, was $1.07 billion.

 

On April 14, 2022, we announced that our Board had authorized a quarterly dividend payment of $0.3125 per share, which was paid on June 1, 2022, to stockholders of record as of the close of business on April 29, 2022. Subsequent to our fiscal year end, on July 21, 2022, our Board approved a 5.6% increase to our annualized dividend rate. The Board also approved a quarterly dividend of $0.33 per share to be paid on September 1, 2022 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on August 3, 2022.

 

Contractual Obligations

 

As part of our ongoing operations, we enter into contractual arrangements that obligate us to make future cash payments. These obligations impact our liquidity and capital resource needs. In addition to principal and interest payments on our outstanding long-term debt and notes payable balances, discussed above, our contractual obligations primarily consist of lease payments, income taxes, pension and postretirement benefits, and unconditional purchase obligations.

 

A summary of our operating and finance lease obligations as of  May 29, 2022 can be found in Note 14, "Leases", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

 

The liability for gross unrecognized tax benefits related to uncertain tax positions was $62.9 million as of May 29, 2022. See Note 13, "Pre-Tax Income and Income Taxes", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report for information related to income taxes.

 

As of May 29, 2022, we had an aggregate funded pension asset of $162.1 million and an aggregate unfunded postretirement benefit obligation totaling $61.4 million. We expect to make payments totaling approximately $12.4 million and $8.1 million in fiscal 2023 to fund our pension and postretirement plans, respectively. See Note 17, "Pension and Postretirement Benefits", to the Consolidated Financial Statements and "Critical Accounting Estimates Employee-Related Benefits" contained in this report for further discussion of our pension obligation and factors that could affect estimates of these obligations.

 

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As of May 29, 2022, our unconditional purchase obligations (i.e., obligations to transfer funds in the future for fixed or minimum quantities of goods or services at fixed or minimum prices, such as "take-or-pay" contracts) totaled approximately $2.63 billion. Approximately $1.91 billion of this balance is due in fiscal 2023. Included in this amount are open purchase orders and other supply agreements totaling approximately $1.70 billion, which are generally settleable in the ordinary course of business in less than one year. Some are not legally binding and/or may be cancellable. Warehousing service agreements totaling approximately $375 million make up a majority of our remaining unconditional purchase obligations with various terms of up to 10 years.

 

Capital Expenditures

 

We continue to make investments in our business and operating facilities. Our preliminary estimate of capital expenditures for fiscal 2023 is approximately $500 million.

 

Supplier Arrangements

 

We offer certain suppliers access to a third-party service that allows them to view our scheduled payments online. The third-party service also allows suppliers to finance advances on our scheduled payments at the sole discretion of the supplier and the third party. We have no economic interest in these financing arrangements and no direct relationship with the suppliers, the third party, or any financial institutions concerning this service. All balances remain as obligations to our suppliers as stated in our supplier agreements and are reflected in accounts payable within our Consolidated Balance Sheets. The associated payments are included in net cash flows from operating activities within our Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows. As of May 29, 2022 and May 30, 2021, $378.3 million and $279.3 million, respectively, of our total accounts payable was payable to suppliers who utilize this third-party service.

 

The program commenced at about the same time that we began an initiative to negotiate extended payment terms with our suppliers. Although difficult to predict, we generally expect the incremental cash flow benefits associated with these extended payment terms to increase at a slower rate in the future. A number of factors may impact our future payment terms, including our relative creditworthiness, overall market liquidity, and changes in interest rates and other general economic conditions.

 

Cash Flows

 

In fiscal 2022, we generated $3.1 million of cash, which was the net result of $1.18 billion generated from operating activities, $434.9 million used in investing activities, $738.0 million used in financing activities, and a decrease of $1.3 million due to the effects of changes in foreign currency exchange rates.

 

Cash generated from operating activities totaled $1.18 billion in fiscal 2022, as compared to $1.47 billion generated in fiscal 2021. The decrease in operating cash flows for fiscal 2022 compared to fiscal 2021 was primarily driven by lower gross profits, which reflect the impact of realized input cost inflation and higher transportation costs. This was partially offset by decreased interest and pension contribution payments and increased equity method investment distributions received in fiscal 2022 compared to fiscal 2021. Operating cash flows in fiscal 2021 also benefited from the deferral of $33.9 million of employer payroll taxes under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Payments totaling 50% of such amounts were made in the third quarter of fiscal 2022 and remaining payments will occur in the third quarter of fiscal 2023. Changes in working capital were negatively impacted by increased accounts receivables resulting from inflation-driven pricing actions, offset by a smaller degree of inventory build relative to prior year.

 

Cash used in investing activities totaled $434.9 million in fiscal 2022 compared to $340.3 million in fiscal 2021. Net cash outflows from investing activities in fiscal 2022 and 2021 consisted primarily of capital expenditures totaling $464.4 million and $506.4 million, respectively. Investing cash flows for fiscal 2021 also included proceeds totaling $160.9 million from the sale of our Egg Beaters®, Peter Pan® peanut butter, and H.K. Anderson® businesses. 

 

Cash used in financing activities totaled $738.0 million in fiscal 2022 compared to $1.61 billion in fiscal 2021. Financing activities in fiscal 2022 principally reflect net proceeds of $499.1 million from the issuance of $500.0 million aggregate principal amount of long-term debt, net short-term borrowing repayments of $523.1 million, cash dividends paid of $581.8 million, and common stock repurchases of $50.0 million. Financing activities in fiscal 2021 reflect repayments of long-term debt of $2.51 billion, the issuance of long-term debt totaling $988.2 million, net short-term borrowings of $706.3 million, cash dividends paid of $474.6 million, and common stock repurchases of $298.1 million.

 

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Cash Held by International Subsidiaries

 

The Company had cash and cash equivalents of $83.3 million at May 29, 2022, and $79.2 million at May 30, 2021, of which $74.7 million at May 29, 2022, and $72.4 million at May 30, 2021, was held in foreign countries. A deferred tax liability is provided for certain undistributed foreign earnings in fiscal 2022 that are not considered to be indefinitely reinvested or cannot be remitted in a tax-neutral transaction. Other undistributed foreign earnings are invested indefinitely and therefore we have not provided deferred taxes on those earnings.

 

 

CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES

 

The process of preparing financial statements requires the use of estimates on the part of management. The estimates used by management are based on our historical experiences combined with management's understanding of current facts and circumstances. Certain of our accounting estimates are considered critical as they are both important to the portrayal of our financial condition and results and require significant or complex judgment on the part of management. The following is a summary of certain accounting estimates considered critical by management.

 

Our Audit/Finance Committee has reviewed management's development, selection, and disclosure of the critical accounting estimates.

 

Marketing Costs—We offer various forms of trade promotions which are mostly recorded as a reduction in revenue. The methodologies for determining these provisions are dependent on local customer pricing and promotional practices, which range from contractually fixed percentage price reductions to provisions based on actual occurrence or performance. Our promotional activities are conducted either through the retail trade or directly with consumers and included activities such as in-store displays and events, feature price discounts, consumer coupons, and loyalty programs. The costs of these activities are recognized as a reduction of revenue at the time the related revenue is recorded, which normally precedes the actual cash expenditure. The recognition of these costs therefore requires management judgment regarding the volume of promotional offers that will be redeemed by either the retail trade or consumer. These estimates are made using various techniques including historical data on performance of similar promotional programs. Differences between estimated expense and actual redemptions are recognized as a change in management estimate in a subsequent period.

 

We have recognized trade promotion liabilities of $125.9 million as of May 29, 2022. Changes in the assumptions used in estimating the cost of any individual customer marketing program would not result in a material change in our results of operations or cash flows.

 

Income Taxes—Our income tax expense is based on our income, statutory tax rates, and tax planning opportunities available in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. Tax laws are complex and subject to different interpretations by the taxpayer and respective governmental taxing authorities. Significant judgment is required in determining our income tax expense and in evaluating our tax positions, including evaluating uncertainties. Management reviews tax positions at least quarterly and adjusts the balances as new information becomes available. Deferred income tax assets represent amounts available to reduce income taxes payable on taxable income in future years. Such assets arise because of temporary differences between the tax bases of assets and liabilities and their carrying amounts in our consolidated balance sheets, as well as from net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. Management evaluates the recoverability of these future tax deductions by assessing the adequacy of future expected taxable income from all sources, including reversal of taxable temporary differences, forecasted operating earnings, and available tax planning strategies. These estimates of future taxable income inherently require significant judgment. Management uses historical experience and short and long-range business forecasts to develop such estimates. Further, we employ various prudent and feasible tax planning strategies to facilitate the recoverability of future deductions. To the extent management does not consider it more likely than not that a deferred tax asset will be recovered, a valuation allowance is established.

 

Further information on income taxes is provided in Note 13, "Pre-tax Income and Income Taxes", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

 

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