Milling & Baking News - July 3, 2007 - (Page 1)

THE NEWS WEEKLY OF GRAIN-BASED FOODS JULY 3, 2007 / Unrelenting rain exacting toll on hard winter quality On the comeback trail Cookie companies look to innovation, reformulation to reclaim sales Story on Page 27 LATE NEWS General Mills snack sales jump 10% MINNEAPOLIS - The performance of grain snacks such as Nature Valley granola bars and new Fiber One bars helped the Snacks division of General Mills, Inc.'s U.S. Retail segment report a net sales increase of 10%, exceeding $1 billion for the first time, in the fiscal year ended May 27, the Minneapolis-based company said June 28. Net sales for Pillsbury USA and the Baking Products division each grew 3%. Big G cereals posted a 2% sales increase. Companywide, General Mills posted fiscal-year net earnings of $1.14 billion, equal to $3.30 per share on Continued on Page 8 KANSAS CITY - That millers and bakers will be seriously challenged in 2007-08 by the poor quality of the hard winter crop was increasingly evident last week as heavy rains continued to plague harvest areas. According to millers and wheat merchants, bread bakers and other flour users face making significant adjustments to mixing operations in the next several months as each day makes clearer the 2007 hard winter wheat crop likely will be very low in average protein, with quality bushels pricey and hard sought among mounds of sub-milling quality grain seeking outlets. One milling executive said the situ- ation was the most challenging in years, perhaps decades. "The wheat in the eastern half of Kansas is pretty much shot," he said. "There's a band in the central corridor where wheat is better, and then the western areas, with big yields but low protein. It certainly will be a very lowprotein crop for the bakers. Absorption also will be low." Another miller expressed concern over milling yields because of low average test weight in the crop and problems with shrunken and shriveled kernels in areas usually supplying superior quality. Cash wheat traders on the floor of the AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS FEATURE Continued on Page 10 Bill to sidestep union organizing rules defeated in Senate vote WASHINGTON - A bill that would have allowed labor unions to organize workplaces without secret-ballot elections was blocked from consideration last week. The legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, had been fiercely opposed by the baking industry and the business community. With a final vote of 51 to 48, Senate Democrats were unable to gather the 60 votes needed to force consideration of the bill. While the bill was passed in the House of Representatives in March, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell had said for months that he would impede the legislation. He said the bill was written to help union bosses and not workers, citing data indicating union membership in the workforce had plunged over the last generation from 23% in 1983 to 14% in 2005. "Defeating this bill is a victory for all baking industry employees, and the American Bakers Association thanks those senators who voted to protect the right to privacy for the American workforces," said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. "The tremendously broad response by Continued on Page 14

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Milling & Baking News - July 3, 2007