Milling & Baking News - May 17, 2005 - (Page 1)

Theinewsweeklyiofigrain-basedifoods MAY 17, 2005 / U.S.D.A. projects winter wheat production up 6% from last year WASHINGTON - The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on May 12 projected 2005 winter wheat production at 1,590,862,000 bus, up 91,428,000 bus, or 6%, from 1,499,434,000 bus in 2004. Production would be 9% above the recent five-year average of 1,454 million bus, which included the 2002 crop of 1,137 million bus, the smallest in 32 years. Based on May 1 conditions, average winter wheat yield was projected at 45.4 bus per acre, up from 43.5 bus per acre last year and compared with the all-time high yield of 47.8 bus per acre set in 1999. Harvested area in 2005 was estimated at 35,069,000 acres, up 607,000 acres, or 2%, from 34,462,000 acres in 2004. Hard red winter wheat production was projected at 1.01 billion bus, up 18% from last year. Soft red winter wheat production was projected at 302 million bus, down 21% from 2004. And white wheat production was projected at 283 million bus, up 7%. Of the white production projection, 31.2 million bus were hard white wheat, and 251 million bus soft white. The soft red winter projection was 7.4 million bus smaller than the March 15 soft wheat millers' forecast of 309,406,000 bus. Kansas wheat production was projected at 422,400,000 bus, up 34% from the 2004 outturn of 314,500,000 bus. The recent Kansas wheat crop tour had forecast an outturn of 420 million bus. (Production details may be found on Page 14.) MBN Prince says initiatives will place Weston profits on growth track TORONTO - A raft of recent and pending new product introductions together with ongoing major cost-cutting initiatives will help bolster the baked foods business of Weston Foods U.S., Gary Prince, president, said in a May 10 conference call. The call followed the release of parent company George Weston Ltd. quarterly earnings. LATE Net income of George Weston in the first quarter ended March 26 was C$100 million ($81 million), equal to C72c (58c) per share on the common stock, down 21% from C$121 million, or C88c per share. Sales were C$6,972 million ($5,647 million), up 6.4%. Results include restructuring charges of Continued on Page 37 NEWS AFC to pay $12 per share dividend ATLANTA - AFC Enterprises Inc. late last week announced that it will pay shareholders a special dividend of $12 per share using some of the proceeds from selling its Church's Chicken brand last year. The company also said it completed refinancing its credit, now consisting of a five-year revolving facility - of which $60 million is available - and a six-year, $190 million term loan. About $54 million of the new credit Continued on Page 8 inside Expecting the Unexpected Story on Page 21 ConAgra undertakes finding successor to Rohde as c.e.o OMAHA - The formation of a search committee for a new chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods Inc. was announced May 10 by the company. Bruce Rohde, chairman and c.e.o., formally asked the ConAgra board to establish the committee, which will be headed by Steven F. Goldstone, a director and the retired chairman and c.e.o. of RJR Nabisco. "My goal here is to set the stage for purposeful succession planning," said Mr. Rohde, who is 56. No specific timetable was offered by ConAgra. Mr. Rohde has been c.e.o. of ConAgra since September 1997 and chairman since September 1998. During his tenure, the company was restructured from 90 independent operating companies into three Continued on Page 17 THIS WEEK Equity group acquires Vermont Bread 10 New chief executive named at Lance 16 Ingredient Bimbo results improve in quarter 35 Week sponsored by 38

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Milling & Baking News - May 17, 2005