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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 30, 2021

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)

Registrant’s 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 27, 2020 (the last business day of the Registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was approximately $17,559,528,469 based upon the closing sale price on the New York Stock Exchange on such date.

At June 27, 2021, 480,326,127 common shares were outstanding.

Documents Incorporated by Reference

Portions of the Registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for the Registrant's 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the "2021 Proxy Statement") are incorporated by reference into Part III.

 

 


 

 

Table of Contents

 

PART I

3

 

 

Item 1

Business

3

 

 

 

Item 1A

Risk Factors

9

 

 

 

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

36

 

 

 

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

38

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Earnings for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2021, 2020, and 2019

38

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2021, 2020, and 2019

39

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of May 30, 2021 and May 31, 2020

40

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Common Stockholders' Equity for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2021, 2020, and 2019

41

 

 

 

 

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the Fiscal Years Ended May 2021, 2020, and 2019

42

 

 

 

 

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

43

 

 

 

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

89

 

 

 

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

89

 

 

 

Item 9B

Other Information

89

 

 

 

Item 9C

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

90

 

 

 

PART III

91

 

 

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

91

 

 

 

Item 11

Executive Compensation

91

 

 

 

Item 12

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

91

 

 

 

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

92

 

 

 

Item 14

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

92

 

 

 

PART IV

93

 

 

Item 15

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

93

 

 

 

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

99

 

 

 

Signatures

100

 

 

 

 


 

 

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.

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.

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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 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. See Note 2, "Acquisitions", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report for further information.

Divestitures

During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, we completed the sale of our Egg Beaters® business for net proceeds of $50.6 million, subject to final working capital adjustments. 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. The assets and liabilities of this business have been reclassified as assets and liabilities held for sale within our Consolidated Balance Sheets for all periods presented prior to the divestiture.

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, including working capital adjustments but subject to final adjustments for certain tax benefits. The business results 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. The assets and liabilities of this business have been reclassified as assets and liabilities held for sale within our Consolidated Balance Sheets for all periods presented prior to the divestiture.

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, customer service, brand recognition, and brand loyalty.

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.

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We manufacture primarily for stock; we fill our customer orders from finished goods inventories. While at any given time there may be some backlog of orders, such backlog is not material in respect to annual net sales, and the changes of backlog orders from time to time are not significant.

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. Chang’s®, Bertolli®, and Libby’s® 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 26% of consolidated net sales for each of fiscal 2021 and 2020 and 24% of consolidated net sales for fiscal 2019.

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 depend 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: Seeking out and respecting varied perspectives, embracing collaboration, and assuming positive intent

 

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

 

Leadership by all: Simplifying, making decisions, inspiring others, and acting like an owner

 

Focus on 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 30, 2021, we had approximately 18,600 employees, primarily in the United States. Approximately 46% of our employees are parties to collective bargaining agreements. We believe our relationships with employees and their representative organizations are good.

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 commit to protecting themselves and their colleagues. During fiscal year 2021, our Occupational Safety & Health Administration Incident Rate was 2.00 incidents per 100 full-time workers, as compared to 1.69 incidents per 100 full-time workers in fiscal 2020 and 2.28 incidents per 100 full-time workers in fiscal 2019. 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.

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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 ensure 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 over 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, diversity is 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 enablers 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 11 directors are racially/ethnically diverse, three of our 11 directors are women, and four of 10 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 2021, we launched numerous efforts to amplify our commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce:

 

We established a Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council (the "Council"), comprised of our Senior Leadership and Human Resource Diversity and Inclusion teams, to set our D&I strategy, track our D&I progress, and ensure execution of our D&I initiatives.

 

The Council refreshed the Company's D&I strategic plan during fiscal 2021, and declared a 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 2021 include the following:

 

In October 2020, we launched Conagra's inclusive leadership development program. Through the end of fiscal 2021, we have trained over 1,400 people managers in inclusive leadership practices.

 

In November 2020, we partnered with The Hatchery Chicago to create a twelve-week culinary internship program for individuals from underrepresented communities.

 

In May 2021, we announced a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund through which Conagra will make donations to each organization for college scholarships in an effort to ensure that black and brown students receive equitable access to higher education opportunities. Conagra employees will also actively engage with scholarship recipients to provide professional development opportunities.

 

Throughout fiscal 2021, 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 2022.

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.

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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 2021 Annual Shareholders' Meeting.

Additional information regarding our human capital management is available in our 2020 Citizenship Report that can be found on our website at https://www.conagrabrands.com/our-company/corporate-social-responsibility. Information on our website, including our 2020 Citizenship Report, is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Information About Our Executive Officers

The names, ages, and positions of our executive officers as of July 23, 2021 are listed below:

Name

 

Title & Capacity

 

Age

 

Year First

Appointed an

Executive

Officer

Sean M. Connolly

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

55

 

 

2015

David S. Marberger

 

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

 

56

 

 

2016

Colleen R. Batcheler

 

Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

 

47

 

 

2008

Charisse Brock

 

Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer

 

59

 

 

2015

Thomas M. McGough

 

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer

 

56

 

 

2013

Darren C. Serrao

 

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Operating Officer

 

55

 

 

2015

Robert G. Wise

 

Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller

 

53

 

 

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 (the predecessor to Hillshire), and Chief Executive Officer, Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice, from January 2012 to June 2012. Prior to joining 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).

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

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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.

Colleen R. Batcheler has served as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary since September 2009 and served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary from February 2008 until September 2009. Ms. Batcheler joined Conagra Brands in June 2006 as Vice President, Chief Securities Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary. In September 2006, she was named Corporate Secretary. From 2003 until joining Conagra Brands, Ms. Batcheler served as Vice President and Corporate Secretary of Albertson's, Inc. (a retail food and drug chain). Prior to that, she served as Associate Counsel with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (a non-profit academic medical center) and an associate with Jones Day (a law firm).

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.

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 20, "Business Segments and Related Information", to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

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Available Information

We make available, free of charge through the "Investors—Financial Reports & Filings" link on our Internet 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 Internet 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.

COVID-19 Pandemic Risks

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

Although we have 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, the pandemic has not to-date had a net negative impact on our liquidity or results of operations. However, the continued spread of COVID-19 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;

 

disruptions in our supply chain and in our ability to obtain ingredients, packaging, and other sourced materials due to labor shortages, 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.

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.    

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Market Risks

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, 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 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; 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.

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 30, 2021, we had total debt of approximately $9.01 billion, including approximately $8.21 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;

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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.

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

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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, 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 can also increase unexpectedly.

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

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 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 will result in increases in raw material, packaging, and energy costs and operating costs. 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.

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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 $31.7 million, $73.8 million, and $168.2 million in connection with the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively.

The successful implementation of the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan presents significant organizational design and infrastructure challenges. In many cases, it requires successful negotiations with third parties, including labor organizations, suppliers, business partners, and other stakeholders. In addition, the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan may not advance our business strategy as expected. 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, 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 financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.

The process of integrating operations could cause an interruption of, or loss of momentum in, our activities. Members of our senior management may be required to devote considerable amounts of time to this integration process, which will decrease the time they will have to manage the Company, service existing customers, attract new customers, and develop new products or strategies. If senior management is not able to effectively manage the integration process, or if any significant business activities are interrupted as a result of the integration process, our business could suffer. There can be no assurance that we will successfully or cost-effectively integrate Pinnacle. The failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

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 to 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 (the "Spinoff").

The Spinoff involves 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

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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 relationship between the two companies going forward.

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 are generally cooking at home more often as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.

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

During fiscal 2021, our largest customer, Walmart, Inc. and its affiliates, accounted for approximately 26% 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.

Third-Party Partner Risks

Disruption of our supply chain could 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. 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,

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government action, 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 may become constrained, which may cause the price of certain ingredients and raw materials used in our products to increase and/or we may experience disruptions to our operations.

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.

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.

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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.

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 sustainability 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. As a result, climate change could negatively affect our business and operations.

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,

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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. 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.

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.

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 30, 2021, we had goodwill of $11.37 billion and other intangibles of $4.16 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

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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.

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 23, 2021, we had forty-one 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.

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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.

For information on legal proceedings, please refer to Note 16 “Contingencies,” to the Consolidated Financial Statements contained in this report.

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

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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 27, 2021, there were approximately 14,163 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 2021.

ITEM 6. [RESERVED]

 

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

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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 30, 2021 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, or health pandemics; disruptions or inefficiencies in our supply chain and/or operations, including from the COVID-19 pandemic; 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; 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 2021 are not necessarily indicative of results that may be attained in the future.

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®, 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.

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Fiscal 2021 Results

Fiscal 2021 performance compared to fiscal 2020 reflected an increase in net sales, with organic (excludes the impacts of foreign exchange, divested businesses, as well as the impact of the 53rd week on fiscal 2020) increases in all of our operating segments with the exception of our Foodservice segment, in each case compared to fiscal 2020. Organic net sales for our retail segments (inclusive of Grocery & Snacks, Refrigerated & Frozen, and International) were positively impacted by the increase in at-home food consumption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with sales declines in our Foodservice segment due to lower traffic in away-from-home food outlets.

Overall gross margin increased due to increased net sales, supply chain realized productivity, cost synergies associated with the Pinnacle acquisition, favorable margin mix, and fixed cost leverage. These benefits were partially offset by higher input cost inflation, higher transportation costs, lost profits due to divested businesses, COVID-19 related expenses, and the exclusion of the 53rd week in fiscal 2020. Overall segment operating profit increased in all of our operating segments with the exception of our Foodservice segment. Corporate expenses were relatively flat year-over-year, but included various items impacting comparability as discussed below. We experienced an increase in equity method investment earnings, a decrease in interest expense, and a decrease in income tax expense, in each case compared to fiscal 2020.

Diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2021 were $2.66. Diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2020 were $1.72. Diluted earnings per share were affected by higher net income as well as several significant items affecting the comparability of year-over-year results of continuing operations (see "Items Impacting Comparability" below).

In the fourth quarter fiscal 2021, 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 be materially higher in fiscal 2022. Supply chain realized productivity and pricing actions will mitigate some of the inflationary pressures, but we do not expect such benefits to occur in time to fully offset the incremental costs in fiscal 2022. As our estimates of inflation for fiscal 2022 continue to change, it is impractical to quantify the impact at this time.

Items Impacting Comparability

Items of note impacting comparability of results for 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 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.

Items of note impacting comparability of results from continuing operations for fiscal 2020 included the following:

 

charges totaling $165.5 million ($127.0 million after-tax) related to the impairment of intangible assets,

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charges totaling $139.5 million ($106.8 million after-tax) in connection with our restructuring plans,

 

charges totaling $59.0 million ($55.0 million after-tax) related to the impairment of businesses held for sale,

 

an income tax benefit of $51.2 million associated primarily related to the reorganization of various legacy Pinnacle legal entities and state tax planning strategies,

 

charges totaling $42.9 million ($32.1 million after-tax) related to pension plan lump-sum settlements and a remeasurement of our hourly and non-qualified pension plan liability,

 

a gain of $11.9 million ($8.9 million after-tax) related to a contract settlement,

 

charges totaling $10.1 million ($7.6 million after-tax) related to legal and environmental matters, and

 

charges totaling $5.3 million ($3.9 million after-tax) associated with costs incurred for acquisitions and divestitures.

In addition, fiscal 2020 earnings per share benefited by approximately $0.05 as a result of the fiscal year including 53 weeks.

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 $50.6 million, subject to final working capital adjustments. 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, including working capital adjustments but subject to final adjustments for certain tax benefits. 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 Lender's® bagel business for net proceeds of $33.3 million, including working capital adjustments. 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 the 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, including working capital adjustments. 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.

Restructuring Plans

In December 2018, our Board approved a restructuring and integration plan related to the ongoing integration of the operations of Pinnacle, which we acquired in October 2018 (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 $358.0 million of charges ($283.5 million of cash charges and $74.5 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 $31.7 million, $73.8 million, and $168.2 million in connection with the Pinnacle Integration Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, 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 (the "Conagra Restructuring Plan") for costs incurred in connection with actions taken to improve selling, general and administrative ("SG&A") expense effectiveness and efficiencies and to optimize our supply chain network. 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 2021, 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 30, 2021, we had approved the incurrence of $172.2 million ($45.4 million of cash charges and $126.8 million of non-

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cash charges) for several projects associated with the Conagra Restructuring Plan. We have incurred or expect to incur $157.3 million of charges ($36.9 million of cash charges and $120.4 million of non-cash charges) for actions identified to date under the Conagra Restructuring Plan. We recognized charges of $46.2 million, $64.4 million, and $2.2 million in connection with the Conagra Restructuring Plan in fiscal 2021, 2020, and 2019, respectively. We expect to incur costs related to the Conagra Restructuring Plan over a multi-year period.

COVID-19 Pandemic

We have continued to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all aspects of our business. Throughout fiscal 2021, we experienced higher net sales for our products in both of our Grocery & Snacks and Refrigerated & Frozen segments until the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, as we began to lap the initial surge in demand at the beginning of the pandemic. We have also experienced reduced demand for our foodservice products across all of our major markets as consumer traffic in away-from-home food outlets decreased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as states have reopened their economies during 2021, our foodservice net sales have improved compared to the initial months of the pandemic.  

As we progress through fiscal 2022, we generally expect retail demand levels to remain elevated versus pre-pandemic levels and we expect foodservice demand levels to return to more historical norms. However, there still remains uncertainty with the pandemic and such trends ultimately depend on the length and severity of the pandemic, inclusive of the introduction of new strains of the virus; the federal, state, and local government actions taken in response; continued vaccine availability and effectiveness; and the macroeconomic environment. In fiscal 2022, we also expect to see inflationary headwinds but anticipate that they will be partially mitigated by supply chain realized productivity and price increases that began to be introduced at the end of fiscal 2021. We also expect a decrease in costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a decrease in supply chain costs as we continue to recover our supply and service levels. We will continue to evaluate the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will impact our business, consolidated results of operations, and financial condition.

During fiscal 2021, our operating margins benefitted from fixed cost leverage, reduced travel expenses, and lower trade promotional activity on certain brands. That benefit was partially offset by several factors including higher transportation and warehousing costs, employee safety and sanitation costs, and employee compensation costs, which combined accounted for an estimated $143 million of additional incremental costs in fiscal 2021. Similar incremental costs starting in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020 were estimated to be approximately $40 million. While we expect these incremental costs to decrease in fiscal 2022, the timing and amount of such decrease is dependent upon the ultimate length and severity of the pandemic as outlined above.

Beginning in February 2020 and over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we created COVID-19 pandemic, Return to Office, and Vaccine Preparedness teams, in order to review and assess the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, 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 implemented various measures, including the installation of physical barriers between employees in production facilities, cleaning and sanitation protocols for both production and office spaces, execution of a phased return to office approach to enable in-person work for corporate personnel, implementation of work-from-home initiatives for certain office personnel, and increased access to vaccines for production facilities and corporate locations. The implementation of such safety measures has not resulted in any meaningful change to our financial control environment.

All of our production facilities remain open and there has been minimal disruption to our supply chain network to date, including with respect to the supply of our ingredients, packaging, or other sourced materials. However, 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.

Refrigerated & Frozen

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

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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 20 "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 30, 2021 and May 31, 2020. For a discussion of changes from the fiscal year ended May 26, 2019 to the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020, refer to Part II, Item 7, Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020 (filed July 24, 2020).

Fiscal 2021 compared to Fiscal 2020

Net Sales

 

($ in millions)

Reporting Segment

 

Fiscal 2021

Net Sales

 

 

Fiscal 2020

Net Sales

 

 

% Inc

(Dec)

 

Grocery & Snacks

 

$

4,637.5

 

 

$

4,617.1

 

 

 

0

%

Refrigerated & Frozen

 

 

4,774.6

 

 

 

4,559.6

 

 

 

5

%

International

 

 

938.6

 

 

 

925.3

 

 

 

1

%

Foodservice

 

 

834.0

 

 

 

952.4

 

 

 

(12

)%

Total

 

$

11,184.7

 

 

$

11,054.4

 

 

 

1

%

Grocery & Snacks net sales for fiscal 2021 included an increase in volumes of 4%, excluding the impact of divestitures and the 53rd week in fiscal 2020, compared to the prior-year period. This result reflected an increase across multiple categories due to increased at-home eating and some replenishment of customer inventory levels that had been depleted in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Price/mix increased 2%, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to the prior-year period due to favorable product mix, lower promotional trade activity, and the favorable impact of a $7.4 million change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. The inclusion of an additional week of results in fiscal 2020 accounted for an incremental 2% of net sales in the prior-year period. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $34.7 million and $113.9 million, respectively, of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business, which was sold in the third quarter of fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $3.6 million and $8.0 million, respectively, of net sales related to our H.K. Anderson® business, which was sold in the second quarter of fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2020 included $23.1 million of net sales related to our private label peanut butter business, which we exited in the third quarter of fiscal 2020. Fiscal 2020 also included $46.1 million of net sales related to our DSD snacks business, which was sold in the second quarter of fiscal 2020.

Refrigerated & Frozen net sales for fiscal 2021 included an increase in volumes of 4%, excluding the impact of divestitures and the 53rd week in fiscal 2020, compared to fiscal 2020. The increase in sales volumes was a result of increased at-home eating

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and some replenishment of customer inventory levels that had been depleted in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Price/mix increased 4% for fiscal 2021, excluding the impact of divestitures, compared to fiscal 2020 due to favorable mix, lower promotional trade activity, favorable pricing, and the favorable impact of a $7.4 million change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. The inclusion of an additional week of results in fiscal 2020 accounted for an incremental 2% of net sales in the prior-year period. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $40.8 million and $41.0 million, respectively, of net sales related to our Egg Beaters® business, which was sold in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. Fiscal 2020 included $23.2 million of net sales related to our Lender's® bagel business, which was sold in the third quarter of fiscal 2020.

International net sales for fiscal 2021 included an increase in price/mix of 4% compared to fiscal 2020 due to lower promotional trade activity, inflation-justified pricing, favorable mix, and the favorable impact of a $2.8 million change in estimate associated with our fiscal 2020 fourth quarter trade accrual. Volumes, excluding the impact of divestitures and the 53rd week in fiscal 2020, were flat when compared to the prior-year period. The inclusion of an additional week of results in fiscal 2020 accounted for an incremental 2% of net sales in the prior-year period. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $1.4 million and $5.2 million, respectively, of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business.

Foodservice net sales for fiscal 2021 included a decrease in volumes of 13%, excluding the impact of divestitures and the 53rd week in fiscal 2020, compared to the prior-year period. The decline in volume reflected lower traffic in away-from-home food outlets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Price/mix, excluding the impact of divestitures, increased 3% in fiscal 2021 compared to fiscal 2020, reflecting inflation-related pricing and lower trade activity. The inclusion of an additional week of results in fiscal 2020 accounted for an incremental 1% of net sales in the prior-year period. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $1.0 million and $3.4 million, respectively, of net sales related to our Peter Pan® peanut butter business. Fiscal 2021 and 2020 included $0.6 million and $2.4 million, respectively, of net sales related to our H.K. Anderson® business. Fiscal 2020 included $6.6 million and $4.6 million of net sales related to our Lender's® bagel and private label peanut butter businesses, respectively.

SG&A Expenses (Includes general corporate expenses)

SG&A expenses totaled $1.40 billion for fiscal 2021, a decrease of $219.5 million compared to fiscal 2020. SG&A expenses for fiscal 2021 reflected the following:

Items impacting comparability of earnings

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

expenses 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,

 

expenses 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.

Other changes in expenses compared to fiscal 2020

 

an increase in advertising and promotion expense of $27.3 million driven by higher eCommerce investments,