Kraft: Warren Buffett, 3G Capital May Push Cost-Cutting |Bloomberg Business

For decades, Kraft and other food behemoths offered convenience, comfort, and the promise of a modern lifestyle. But the compound annual growth rate of the packaged food industry in North America has been less than 1 percent for almost 10 years, with Big Food losing market share to smaller, healthier brands. Venerable Kraft Foods—whose Singles are a “processed cheese product,” and whose Cool Whip didn’t contain milk or cream until five years ago—has lost revenue for the past three years. “Now these big food brands are old-fashioned,” says Bob Goldin, chief executive officer at researcher Technomic. “Consumers don’t see them as relevant.”

But investors, well, that’s a different matter. Warren Buffett—who drinks Coke at breakfast and says he eats like a 6-year-old—teamed up with 3G Capital, the private equity firm founded by some of Brazil’s wealthiest men and known for its penny-pinching ways at Anheuser-Busch InBev and Burger King, to buy ketchup maker Heinz in 2013. In July, Heinz closed on its purchase of Kraft, with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G owning a 51 percent stake. Kraft Heinz instantly became the third-largest food company in North America, with global sales of $29 billion last year. The good news is it’s composed of big, profitable brands. The bad: They have little potential to grow. “What can they do with these brands?” says Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea. “They’ll do the best they can, but mostly they’ll cut costs.”

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