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Big Food is itching to hit the reset button on its narrative with investors, who have soured on the group amid the spread of the Ozempic craze and consumers balking at still inflationary prices.

Enter CAGNY, more formally known as the annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference.

The event is well underway in Boca Raton, Florida, where major packaged food brands with juicy dividend payouts such as PepsiCo (PEP), Coca-Cola (KO), Hershey’s (HSY), Conagra Brands (CAG), Molson Coors (TAP), among others are presenting.

While the conference is set to run through Friday, I have spotted a few early themes from being here on the ground chatting up sources and sitting in on presentations:

Eyes on Volume: As Americans pull back on just how much they’re buying because of high prices (see chocolate), the volume recovery is in focus. Execs at both General Mills (GIS) and Conagra were “hesitant to comment on whether fiscal 2025 (beginning in June) could be a return to growth in line with long-term targets,” Evercore ISI analyst David Palmer wrote in a note to clients from the event.

Hershey and Mondelēz (MDLZ) called on “price pack architecture” with different size and price point offerings, as another potential growth lever. “We’ve always capitalized on having different price points, different pack sizes so that there’s accessibility for everyone,” Hershey CEO Michele Buck said.

Innovation as well as marketing with new partners, are other key tactics to re-engage consumers. Hershey’s, for example, excited the crowd with NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal in attendance to announce a tie-up to “win” in the gummy segment, the fastest-growing sweets segment. Conagra Brands shared that Dolly Partons’ baking line is expanding into frozen shelves.

The Potential for Deals: M&A chatter is alive and well, not too far removed from Campbell Soup’s (CPB) big deal for pasta sauce maker Sovos Brands and J.M. Smucker (SJM) buying Twinkie king Hostess Brands.

While no major announcements were made (yet), many companies are teasing that they’re open to the idea of deals, but are waiting for the right company to come along at the right price.

It may not be a traditional acquisition one would think though. Mizuho Securities managing director John Baumgartner told me that similar to Walmart’s acquisition of Vizio this week, perhaps you could see “food staples companies acquiring differentiated tech companies” to gain a deeper understanding of consumers.

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