Thousands of businesses remain closed after storm hits

Will Sandy hammer US economy?


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," October 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": We already know it has knocked the Northeast, but is Sandy now about to knock this entire economy?

At this hour, thousands of supermarkets and retailers and restaurants remain closed and some of them may be for some time to come.

To the guy whose business supplies a lot of these businesses, the CEO of Heinz, Bill Johnson.

Bill, good do get your read on things. What's the impact do you think of all of this?

BILL JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN & CEO, H.J. HEINZ COMPANY: Well, I think the most immediate impact obviously is to the families and people affected by this. And I wish them all the best. But I think, generally, from our business, Neil, the big issues going to be transportation and logistics, getting product in and out of the tri-state area for sure, and all the East Coast, for about the next 72 to 96 hours.

Beyond that, I think it's going to be solvable and I don't think it will have long-lasting consequences.

CAVUTO: You always wonder how long it drags on, right? If a region or a metropolitan area is without power, obviously, nothing is getting done in that neck of the woods. Now, if it's a lot of metropolitan areas in the same pickle -- no offense to your fine industry -- then what? Then what?

And I guess that is the ultimate issue here, how long this drags on.

JOHNSON: Well, I don't think anybody really knows.

Based just on history, I think we can get through it pretty quickly. Again the ultimate issue is to find ways to get product to the supermarkets so they can get to the consumers. And I think we'll solve a lot of logistics problems over the next couple of days. Obviously, things coming from long distances are going to be affected by air transportation and by the inability to bring ships in and come in from the ocean.

But I think ultimately we'll find a way to get through this either by truck, by rail, some way. But there's no doubt, Neil, there will be some areas that are going to be longer to fix than other areas.

My own daughter, whose birthday is today, by the way, lives in New York. And I know she's been without power for 24 hours. So again I feel badly for all the people there, but it's just going to be day by day and case by case.

CAVUTO: Well, happy birthday to her, by the way, Bill, but not so happy for I think a lot grocery store customers, when they come and see a bit of sticker shock, right, because to get the goods delayed though they may be by storms, eventually the price of those will ratchet up.

I guess it's anyone's guess how much, but I don't think they will go down in price. What do you envision there?

JOHNSON: I think you'll probably see some short-time aberrant pricing. It may go up a bit, but I think long term it settles back down into the status quo.

I think what's going to happen is October will prove to be a pretty good month for a lot of retailers and frankly a lot of food companies in the Northeast, as people stocked up and bought ahead of the storm. I think the first couple of weeks in November will be slow and then I think it'll pick back up.

I think the biggest issue is going to be in the restaurants, as it's been very difficult for people to get into the restaurants. And obviously when they lose business over an extended period time, they can't pick that up. The retailers typically can get it back over time as people restock their pantries.

CAVUTO: All right, by the way, we were showing empty store shelves, grocery store shelves; probably no doubt right after my wife had gone shopping ahead of the storm.


CAVUTO: But do you -- finally, you're a good judge of leadership. How do you think the president's done through this?

JOHNSON: Well, I think he has performed like a president should perform.

Ultimately, I think the big issue we are all going to face next week is the leadership issue. And that will resolve itself in terms of the election.

I can tell you this, Neil, launching into sort of a political foray here. Whatever happens over the next four years, it has to be different than the last four. As Einstein said, doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. And so obviously something has to change going forward.

But I think most presidents rise to crises like this. And I think President Obama is no different than most in that case.

CAVUTO: Well, that would be very good timing for him then, right?

JOHNSON: Well, you never know, Neil. Again, I think many of the American people have probably made up their mind.

CAVUTO: We shall see.

Bill Johnson, always a pleasure.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CAVUTO: Hope your daughter enjoys her birthday, with or without power.

JOHNSON: Thank you. I do, too.

CAVUTO: With or without power.

Thank you, Bill.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

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