Its slogan is “Good Food, Good Life.” But that’s just being modest. Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, turned in a great 2007 performance. During the year ended last December, sales rose 9.2 percent to 107.6 billion Swiss francs (US$9.1 billion) while full-year profit increased 16 percent to 10.6 billion Swiss francs (US$9.7 billion).

“This milestone performance was achieved in a difficult external environment,” noted Nestlé Chairman and CEO Peter Brabeck. “. . . Our success is now driven more by our capacity to innovate and use our R&D pipeline to launch new, value-added products and services, than by raw material prices or the economic climate.

“Combined with our strong emphasis on excellence in execution and discipline in capital management we have, over time, created powerful momentum, which will deliver profitable growth for years to come.”

Nestlé said annual sales of “prepared dishes and cooking aids” increased to 18 billion Swiss francs (US$16.4 billion) with the business experiencing a 3.2 percent real internal growth and 4 percent organic growth. North American businesses posting double-digit gains were Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine and Buitoni, Nestlé noted. Both brands are part managed by Nestlé USA’s Nestlé Prepared Foods Company unit in Solon, Ohio. Named as one Wal-Mart’s top suppliers in 2007, Nestlé Prepared Foods also manages Stouffer’s meals and entrees, as well as hand-held Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets offerings.

President Angelo Iantosca tells Refrigerated & Frozen Foods, “We managed to bring in a year of good performance in 2007 while managing our way through the commodity headaches. These pressures are continuing and have led us to announce a nearly 10-percent price increase on most of our frozen meals. We’ll continue to carefully work our way through this situation - without compromising on our quality.”

For that matter, Nestlé touted both quality and quantity in a host of new offerings last year. Building on success with Corner Bistro entrees and panini, Stouffer’s developed four new Corner Bistro crispy flatbreads. Meanwhile, Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine launched an entirely new line of (soft) flatbread melts, five more Spa Cuisine entrees (with twice the vegetable content), and two panini sandwiches. Also targeting health and wellness was Nestlé’s Hand-Held Group, which developed seven new Lean Pocket sandwiches with whole grain breads.

Buitoni, Nestlé’s other double-digit performer, last year marked 20 years in refrigerated pasta. Meanwhile, brand officials continued to push sales penetration and new item growth with such offerings as Whole Wheat Four-Cheese ravioli.

Borrowing on these entrée insights was Nestlé FoodServices North America. Last year, this Glendale, Calif.-based business introduced a Stouffer’s Chicken & Pesto Penne, Stouffer’s Ricotta Lasagna, Belgian Chef Whole Grain Waffle Stix (for school feeding programs) and Croustades, a homemade, open-faced style breakfast sandwich.

For The Record

Oct. ’07- Parent Nestlé SA promotes Chief Financial Officer Paul Polman to head of Zone Americas effective February 2008. Separately, Nestlé creates a global foodservice business, called Nestlé Professional. It appoints Jorge Sadurni as regional business head- Americas for Nestlé Professional, effective February 2008. Officials say Nestlé Professional’s U.S. offices and beverage business remain in Glendale, Calif., while all culinary activities - including a new foodservice culinary innovation center - move to Solon, Ohio.

Sept. ’07- Parent Nestlé SA announces that Paul Bulcke, head of Zone Americas, will succeed Peter Brabeck effective April 2008 as corporate chief executive officer. Brabeck remains Nestlé’s active, non-executive chairman.