U.S. Simple Meals operating earnings increased 10 percent to $191 million, compared with $174 million in the prior-year period. Benefits from higher selling prices, productivity improvements and lower marketing expenses were partly offset by volume declines and cost inflation. The increase in operating earnings was driven by earnings gains in U.S. Soup, partly offset by a decline in U.S. Sauces.For the first half, sales for U.S. Simple Meals increased 2 percent to $1.729 billion, driven by higher selling prices. U.S. Soup sales rose 2 percent primarily driven by a 6-percent increase in ready-to-serve soups. Sales of condensed soups were comparable to the prior year, while sales of broth decreased 1 percent. U.S. Simple Meals operating earnings were $465 million in the first half compared with $434 million in the year-ago period, an increase of 7 percent. Productivity savings, lower marketing expenses and higher selling prices net of related volume impacts were partly offset by cost inflation. The increase in operating earnings was driven by gains in U.S. Soup, partly offset by a decline in U.S. Sauces. Global Baking and Snacking Sales for Global Baking and Snacking were $561 million for the second quarter, an increase of 7 percent from a year ago. The change in sales reflected the following factors:
- Volume and mix added 6 percent
- Price and sales allowances added 1 percent
- Increased promotional spending subtracted 1 percent
- Currency added 1 percent
- Sales of “Pepperidge Farm” products increased, primarily driven by volume gains, partially offset by increased promotional spending.
- In cookies and crackers, sales increases were driven by strong gains in “Goldfish” snack crackers and the national launch of “Jingos!” adult savory crackers, as well as improved performance in cookies, which benefitted from a successful holiday period.
- Sales of fresh bakery products increased versus the prior year, driven by volume gains across most of the portfolio.
- Excluding the favorable impact of currency, sales at Arnott’s increased, driven by growth in Australia and excellent gains in Indonesia. Sales growth in Australia was driven across all categories: savory crackers, chocolate cookies and sweet varieties.