Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heinz Credits Its Innovation

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heinz Credits Its Innovation

Article excerpt

The H.J. Heinz Co. has been getting lots of press lately over an inventor's charge that the Pittsburgh company infringed on his idea in making its Dip & Squeeze condiment packet after he reached out to the company.

William R. Johnson, the company's chairman, president and CEO, considers this new suit -- the company fended off another one earlier, although that result is being appealed -- frivolous.

"We have people that send things all the time," he said, adding that company policy is to send them back.

Mr. Johnson, at the company's annual shareholder meeting Tuesday at the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, Downtown, touted the strength of Heinz innovation in continuing to produce sales growth for its ketchup and sauces businesses around the globe.

He said the company had sold 1 billion packets of Dip & Squeeze since introducing the new ketchup container two years ago, and noted that other changes such as introducing soft-sided plastic doypack containers for ketchup in the U.S. and jalapeno-flavored ketchup will also fuel growth.

Heinz's overall strategies won a vote of support from its shareholders, who ignored a recommendation from a shareholder advisory group to reject the company's executive compensation plan, a proposal commonly known as "say on pay." The vote was 166 million for the plan, 45 million against, 4.8 million abstaining and 55 million broker non-votes, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Mullen, vice president of corporate and government affairs, hailed the vote. "The result of today's shareholder vote on 'say on pay' (approximately 80 percent approved) reaffirms that Heinz shareholders strongly believe that executive compensation at Heinz is directly linked to the company's outstanding performance."

Shareholders also approved new terms for the 12 directors on the company's board, including Mr. …

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