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Quest Means Business

Biden Fires Back At Report Questioning His Memory; Biden Says Israeli Response In Gaza Has Been Over The Top; Putin, Carlson Mostly Friendly During Two-Hour Interview; Oreo To Make Super Bowl Ad Appearance Since 2013. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired February 09, 2024 - 15:00:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: So the S&P after trying all week pretty much has made it over that crucial 5,000 mark, that does mean it is

in record territory.

You can see a rather subdued day for the Dow, not so for the NASDAQ again, up more than one percent. Those are the markets and these are the main


Joe Biden's allies push back at questions about his age and memory.

Vladimir Putin suggests a deal can be reached to free detained US reporter, Evan Gershkovich.

And it's also of course, the Super Bowl for advertisers. The Mondelez CEO joins me to explain why they are shelling out big bucks for a spot for


Live from New York, it is Friday, February 9th. I'm Paula Newton, in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And good evening. Thanks for being with us.

Any moment now, we're expecting to see Joe Biden with the German Chancellor. Now Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived at the White House. You see

pictures there. He just arrived moments ago.

The meeting comes as US President Biden faces headaches on multiple fronts. His meeting with Olaf Scholz will center of course on providing aid to both

Ukraine and Gaza.

The White House meantime is trying to defend the president now that a special counsel report has come out on his handling of classified


While Joe Biden is not facing any charges, and that's key to remember here, the report raises damaging questions about his age and mental faculties.

Members of the Biden administration, though, are pushing back. Listen.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The comments that were made by that prosecutor -- gratuitous, inaccurate and inappropriate. The

way that the president's demeanor in that report was characterized, could not be more wrong on the facts and clearly, politically motivated.

IAN SAMS, SPOKESMAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL'S OFFICE: Put simply, this case is closed because the facts and the evidence don't support the theories here.

The gratuitous comments that respected experts are saying is out of line are inappropriate, and they shouldn't distract from the fact that the case

is closed, and the facts and evidence show that they reached the right conclusion.


NEWTON: "The right conclusion." The commentary, though, not so good for Joe Biden.

Camila DeChalus has been following all of this for us in Washington, we did of course see that significant pushback from the White House in the last 24

hours, but how else do they expect to fight this special counsel's report?

CAMILA DECHALUS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Paula, it was very clear how the White House wanted to just directly address what came out of the

report and some of the references made to Biden's age and about his memory that they held a press conference last night.

Joe Biden stood -- President Joe Biden stood in front of reporters answering their questions, and he grew increasingly frustrated. And at one

point in time, emotional, just talking about how this report tried to make references to his memory and brought up that he didn't remember the date of

when his son, Beau died.

And so this is how they kind of plan to kind of head-on straight address some of the things that came out of this report is to have the president

keep going on the campaign trail, but just address some of these questions.

Even at the press conference earlier today, they really kind of pushed back on the things that the report was alleging to, and talks about Biden's age

and memory and what they've done in the past, especially when this has come up time and time again about Biden's age and whether that will impact how

voters feel about him running for re-election, they have pointed to how his age just really signals and represents the amount of experience he has had

in office and how he is best suited for this role and to govern America and at this point in time while there are so many things happening in this

country and in the world.

NEWTON: Now, is there any indication that the Biden campaign will now change its strategy? You know, try and improve in some ways to prove that

his faculties are there. He does intend right now to try and be president for the next five years.


DECHALUS: Well, Paula, at this time, there is no indication that the campaign is going to change strategy. At this time, we've been told by

advisers that Biden is really best or at his best when he is campaigning, in front of people, doing hand-to-hand handshakes and talking to people

about issues that matter in their state and in their local communities.

And so, there is indication that he is going to keep doing that.

But when these questions do arise about his age and his memory, Biden has been clear, and he made it clear at the press conference yesterday, saying

that my memory is fine, and when someone asked him whether the conclusions or allegations that came out of this report, whether that will fuel voters'

concerns about his memory, and whether he is best suited to be president, again, he simply stated that he is more than capable in this job and that

he is best suited to continue running for president and to govern the US in the next four years -- Paula.

NEWTON: Okay. Camila, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much.

Now, there were already concerns about the president's recent gaffes. Twice this week, he confused the names of European leaders, and here is what

President Biden said when asked about the report himself last night. Listen.


REPORTER: Do you feel your memory has gotten worse, Mr. President?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My memory has not gotten -- my memory is fine. My memory -- take a look at what I've done since I've

become president. None of you thought I could pass any of the things I got passed. How'd that happen? You know, I guess I just forgot what was going


REPORTER: Do you fear that this report is only going to fuel further concern about your age?

BIDEN: Only by some of you.


NEWTON: "Only by some of you." But to remember here, voters do not agree. A NBC News poll published this week shows three-quarters of Americans are

moderately to seriously concerned about Joe Biden's age and this kind of impression will be very difficult to change.

Jamal Simmons is a CNN political commentator. He's a former communications director to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Okay, Jamal, put us in the War Room of that campaign.


NEWTON: I am actually shocked. I will tell you about the events of the last 24 hours, and the reason is from the very words that came from that special

counsel, they were stunning to many of us. And so if you are in the War Room right now, 24 hours on, what do you do?

SIMMONS: Listen, this is obviously one of the core issues of the campaign, right? Is the president of the United States ready to lead the country for

the next four or five years? And I think there are people who have testified to his capability and his ability to do it.

The vice president did today, she talked about some of the meetings they were in October 8th and 7th -- October 8th right after the attacks in

Israel. She talks about that.

We also have a quote -- we also listened to the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, Mark Milley, who said that he engaged with him

frequently, found him alert, sound, does his homework, reads all the papers, read ahead materials. He is up on very serious matters of war and

peace and life and death. Right?

So the people who are in the meetings with him, the most important meetings, the Situation Room meetings, they know.

I was at the White House for a year, and I'll tell you, staffers knew when you go in -- when my friends would go in to brief the president, the

president of the United States would ask questions and pepper them. He knew information.

So it's not somebody who I think is not in charge and that rumor or that feeling is just not accurate. So the campaign has got to get out there,

they've got to show the president engaging. They've got to show him really being on top of the issues that people are taking care of, but it may not

be an issue in the ways that we're used to, right? It may not be in the sit-down interview at the Super Bowl, but it might be him going to people's

homes, it might be him doing more individual meetings with two or three or four people, those things may end up on social media.

You may see a different kind of campaign this year than you've seen other times, because it's a different kind of media environment.

NEWTON: But you're saying, put him out there more, certainly than he has been.

SIMMONS: Put him out there more, but you've got to put him out there in different venues.

Listen, you can prepare and it takes a lot, really. I used to prepare the vice president for these media interviews or prepare for big meetings. You

know, you've got staff that has got to produce talking points, and people have to figure out background memos, and you've got to have entire


But if you're putting him in environments where people are having a chance to talk to him one-on-one and he can just engage with voters and talk to

them about the fact that he has lowered prescription drug prices to $35.00 an (hour) or he is, you know, helping inflation prices go down. Gas prices

are going down. Unemployment is going down. He could talk about all of those things, investment in science and technology and semiconductors are

going up.

If he can talk about those things, one-on-one or one-on-five or one-on-30, then I think he has a chance to really make an impression in the memory.

NEWTON: But I do want to talk to you about the impression that must be left. I mean, look, his likely challenger here, former President Donald

Trump is not that much younger than him and yet, an NBC News poll and I'll get back to this, three-quarters of voters including half of Democrats say

they have concerns about President Biden's mental and physical health and yet only 61 percent of viewers have concerns about Donald Trump and all the

charges he is facing.


How do you counter that, Jamal? I mean, is it not really an indictment of the strategy that the Biden campaign has had so far because the needle

hasn't moved, and now they are -- they are no further ahead. In fact, one would argue they've really done a lot of damage to the campaign in 24


SIMMONS: So it's February, and one of the things I think you learn in campaign is that campaigns have a way of rolling out, right? This campaign

isn't going to be up until November. There are a lot of big moments to pay attention to, one of them is going to be the conventions.

But right now, what's happening, everybody is very aware of this inside the Biden world is the Republicans are having their own intramural fight. So

while that fight is second place, the last thing Joe Biden wants to do is insert himself into a Republican versus Republican fight. Let them sort

that out, and when they sort that out, then you have the president's ability to come in and talk a little bit more about the fact that Donald

Trump, when faced with the greatest threat America has faced, probably since World War Two or 9/11 for sure, which was the pandemic, Donald Trump

fell on his face, he couldn't do it.

In fact, he was suggesting people to inject bleach to try to clean it out of their systems, he just didn't know how to handle the crisis and do we

want to go back to that kind of thing?

NEWTON: Okay, Jamal, but I have to ask you before we go about, guess what? Michigan.


NEWTON: And why am I going to ask you about Michigan? You know why? Because it's a tough swing --

SIMMONS: It's my home.

NEWTON: Believe me, I know, and it is a tough swing state.

Joe Biden probably wants you to get there right now. I mean, look, this is a tough arena. So what do you say to the people back home about why they

should vote for Joe Biden again given all they've seen?

SIMMONS: Well, I mean, I think it's pretty clear. The question is between do you want to vote for somebody who is trying to make sure your life is

better, trying to increase investment, and trying to help you get a job, how to help your family do well? Or do you want to vote for somebody who is

trying to help his family do well? Right? Who is trying to help take care of his own legal problems?

He is taking money, Donald Trump is taking money, $50 million from people who are donating to his campaign and using it for legal fees. It does not

seem at all that Donald Trump is focused on what the future of the country needs. Is he helping people get the skills they need to compete? Is he

helping people develop the desire and drive they need to compete? Is he going to create more opportunity for Americans? We don't know, because he's

just not talking about it. And I think that's what the issue will be.

NEWTON: I've got to go, though, but inevitably, even in these small groups when someone holds up a sign, Genocide Joe?

SIMMONS: Yes, listen, Gaza is going to be a problem. The president has got to talk about it. He has got to spend some more time talking about it. He's

got to engage.

I think you're starting to see the Secretary of State trying to negotiate some peace. The president also has been focused on like settlers, from

Israeli settlers and making sure they're not able to attack West Bank. People from -- Palestinians from the West Bank, they are sanctioning them.

So it's not a blank cheque the president is writing to Israel, but Israel is a historic friend of the United States, and Israel was attacked in

October. So the president is very focused on making sure Israel can protect itself, but as he's played in the last few days, I think there has got to

be some proportion, and let's figure out whether or not things have gone too far or are there some new ways Israel can protect itself that don't

result in 25,000 Palestinians losing their lives.

NEWTON: Jamal, you might have just bought yourself a ticket back home to be on the streets in the suburbs of Michigan for the next few months as this

race obviously continues to heat up.

Jamal Simmons, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Now, amid the controversy, Biden made his most pointed comments yet about Israel's actions in Gaza. Listen.


BIDEN: The conduct of the response in Gaza -- in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.


NEWTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the IDF to make evacuation plans for Rafah before sending troops in. The US says it would

not support an attack on Rafah without serious planning for civilian safety.

Our Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv and following the latest developments.

Listen, I don't have to remind you there is a compromised population almost as many people in all of Paris now in the south, right, huddled, many in

tents, many in Rafah, against that closed border with Egypt. What does anyone saying there about what could feasibly be done to try and move

people out of harm's way?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, right now, certainly the Israeli government is not providing any details about what those plans

would entail. In fact, it appears that despite announcing this planned offensive in Rafah a couple of days ago that the Israeli prime minister is

only now directing the military to begin planning for the evacuation of the civilian population from there as the Israeli military prepares this


And certainly, when you look at the widespread devastation in Gaza and the fact that you know, there is nowhere that has really proven to be safe, it

is unclear where this population would go and also what they would find wherever they are directed to go.


One of the reasons why Rafah has become a refuge is in part because of its proximity to the Egyptian border, because that is where aid has been

flowing in, and up until now, it has been relatively safe from Israeli military operations, although they have conducted airstrikes in Rafah at

times throughout the period of this war.

But now, the movement of 1.4 million people, more than half of Gaza's population would be an enormous undertaking and it is not clear exactly how

the Israeli military would carry that out.

We know that in the past, they have created evacuation corridors from Northern Gaza, for example, as that population at the beginning of this war

fled south, those corridors, though, did not always prove to be entirely safe. Some Palestinians were detained as they went down those corridors,

and we know that the coordination and the communication of these evacuations has not always been -- has been less than ideal to say the


So there is enormous concern right now from humanitarian aid groups, as well as from the United States about the implications of an Israeli

offensive in that city and exactly what kind of planning is being done for the population there.

NEWTON: Yes, and Jeremy, I do want to go back to what we were just talking about, and those are Biden's comments. This over the top comment. Is the

War Cabinet concerned at all, as far as you can tell that the US will back up his sentiments really for restraint, if that they will actually back it

up with punitive action?

DIAMOND: It's not clear. I mean, up until this point, what we have seen is a ramp up in US pressure on Israel, a ramp up in the rhetoric, including

from the president himself, about the ways in which the Israeli military is conducting its operations in Gaza, what we have yet to see is tying any of

that tough rhetoric to actionable steps using the kind of leverage that the United States has over Israel, including military aid and weapons shipments

to Israel to tie any of that to Israeli military policy.

The White House just doesn't seem to be willing to take things that next step further. What they are making clear, though, is that they believe that

a military operation in Rafah right now, would be a disaster. That's according to the National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby, if the

Israeli military doesn't do the kind of planning that would need to be done to protect the civilian population.

So for now, more rhetoric, no clear sense that they will go any further than that. But I think one last thing to keep in mind is the fact that this

is all coming under the context of ongoing negotiations with Hamas for a potential ceasefire, and there is a school of thought that this rhetoric

about a planned offensive in Gaza, in Rafah may not be a bluff, necessarily, but it may be part of a pressure tactic to get Hamas to agree

to a deal that would be more favorable to Israel's terms for the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire in Gaza.

NEWTON: Yes, and it is good that you remind us of that. It has not been a productive week on that front. And yet, at any point in time, you don't

know what they can make of that three-phase proposal.

Jeremy diamond for us in Tel Aviv, thanks so much.

Tucker Carlson's interview with Vladimir Putin has now been released. What the Russian leader told the former Fox anchor about a detained "Wall Street

Journal" reporter, and of course, the war in Ukraine, that's next.



NEWTON: Vladimir Putin suggests a deal could be made to free an American journalist held in Russia. He made those comments during his mostly

friendly interview with Tucker Carlson. Evan Gershkovich, a reporter for "The Wall Street Journal" was arrested last year on charges of spying. Both

the US government and "The Wall Street Journal" say the allegation is bogus.

Now Putin suggested to Carlson that a prisoner swap was possible while making reference to a Russian hitman convicted of murder in Berlin.

Mikhail Zygar is the author of "War and Punishment." He is also the founding editor of the independent Russian television channel TV, Rain.

I really want to thank you for joining us. It goes without saying that you right now live in exile.

What do you make of what happened with Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin? And what I'm really interested in is what effect do you believe it had on

ordinary Russians? Does it further entrench this idea that, you know, Putin is a master antagonist, needling the West, and that actually plays well in

an election year?

MIKHAIL ZYGAR, AUTHOR, "WAR AND PUNISHMENT;" AND FOUNDING EDITOR, TV, RAIN: You know, I think that Putin is quite happy with the interview, because he

is really interested in the western audience, not only Russian audience, and during the last couple of years, we've been watching him trying to

appeal to more conservative audience. He is trying to push the ultra- conservative laws and initiatives in Russia. So yes, he wants to be liked by people like Tucker Carlson. He wants to be liked by far right all around

the globe. So I think he is very, very happy.

And this interview was particularly organized not for domestic audience, that was initiated for international audience, and I think he thinks that

he has achieved his goals.

NEWTON: Yes, and it was, you said, for a western audience. But yet at the same time, he did get a lot of attention, Tucker Carlson and Vladimir Putin

while he was in Russia, but I want to ask you, why do you believe the Kremlin granted the interview, and I want to ask specifically about the aid

bill -- the aid bill for Ukraine making its way, trying to make its way through Capitol Hill right now. Do you believe he can influence whether or

not Ukraine gets more aid from the United States?

ZYGAR: No, I think Putin considers the war in Ukraine to be strongly associated with Joe Biden, and he thinks that, that the time is on his

side, on Putin's side. His bet is on Donald Trump. He is expecting Donald Trump to be back in the White House.

And I think when he was speaking about a deal, a possible exchange of Evan Gershkovich, that's what is discussed in Moscow, Evan Gershkovich could be

sent back home to the United States, but only if there is the new owner in the White House. So probably next January, when, as Putin hopes on the

Inauguration Day of Donald Trump, Even Gershkovich could be sent from Russia to the United States that early.

NEWTON: Interesting.

ZYGAR: And so --

NEWTON: Yes, interesting. So you believe, he is saving it as a win for Donald Trump if Donald Trump is the next president.

ZYGAR: Absolutely.

NEWTON: Yes, interesting. I'm wondering how you feel, though now, years in exile, because it seems like people like you have left and yet Putin and

Russia only seem to get stronger. The IMF upping its growth targets for Russia. The sanctions haven't seemed to have broken the economy or Putin,

for that matter. Where do you see things now to -- almost two years now since the invasion of Ukraine?

ZYGAR: Yes, I think the situation is very tense and Putin, unfortunately, would ensure that he is winning and Russian economy looks very strong, and

we are sure that that Western sanctions are not working.


I think that not all of the sanctions were really logical because a lot of big Russian business that was very active in the West, and that was not

closely affiliated with Putin, but still was in a way sanctioned and pushed back into Russia and a lot of Russian businessmen, not only infamous

oligarchs who are very close to Putin. Look, Russian big business as such was pushed back to Russia and that created some kind of investment boom in


So yes, he is very stable --

NEWTON: I just want to interrupt you for a second. We are going to President Biden and the German chancellor, let's listen in.

BIDEN: And we've been doing that. We've got to continue to do it.

And, you know, Congress -- we have to pass a national security spending package now. Our House members are being somewhat reluctant -- and

hopefully, it's more politics than real, but -- including funding for Ukraine and to help them continue to be able to defend themselves against

the brutal aggression of Russia.

But I want to thank you, Olaf, for your leadership from the very beginning. And you've done something no one thought could get done: You've doubled

Germany's military aid to Ukraine this year. And it's really important. We've got to step up and do our part now.

Today, we'll also discuss the work to -- just that we're going to be doing together to strengthen NATO ahead of the 75th NATO Summit this summer here.

So, you've got to come back.

And also, the latest developments in the Middle East, including hostage release -- we have negotiations going on; increase in lifesaving

humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza -- in the Gaza Strip; and preserve the space for an enduring peace for a two-state solution down the

road. I think it's possible. It's going to take a lot of work, but I think we can do it.

So, Olaf, thank you very, very much for being here. We've got a lot to talk about.

And the floor is yours, man.

CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMANY: Yes, thank you for having me and for having the chance to continue our conversations we have continuously all

the time.

And, yes, Germany and the United States have to play a role to keep peace in the world. This is especially so looking at the Russian aggression

against Ukraine, which is still ongoing. And when we saw this ridiculous interview Putin gave shortly, we understand that he is always telling a lot

of lies about the history of this war, because it's so easy to understand why he's doing it.

He wants to get the part of the territory of its neighbors. Just imperialist -- imperialism. And I think it is necessary that we do all our

best to support Ukraine and to give them the chance to defend their country.

And so, I'm very happy that in Europe we made, now, decisions to give the necessary financial support to the budget, also that Germany was ready to

increase its support with weapon delivery.

And hopefully, the .

BIDEN: (Holds up crossed fingers.)

SCHOLZ: . Congress will -- the House will follow you and make a decision on giving the necessary support, because without the support of United States

and without the support of the European states, Ukraine will have not a chance to defend its own country.

I really think that it's very good that we are working together looking at the situation in the Middle East and especially working on the two-state

solution, which is necessary for a lasting peace. And I'm sure that the United States and Germany are aligned intensely.

BIDEN: We are. We are.

But I -- especially want to -- I'd like to add another point: The failure of the United States Congress, if it occurs, not to support Ukraine is

close to criminal neglect. It is outrageous.

Kissinger was right when he said: Not since Napoleon has Europe not looked over its shoulder and worried about Russia -- until now.

You and I helped put NATO together in a way it hadn't been a long time. So much is at stake, so they better step up.

Thank you all very much.


Thank you. Thank you.

NEWTON: And we were just listening to President Biden there with the German chancellor, both of them making remarks. It is definitely a fireside chat

there, we can hear the crackling fire and both of them being quite direct about what the Ukrainian aid package right now before Capitol Hill means.

The president actually saying that in fact he found it would be criminal neglect if Congress didn't pass that aid package and the German Chancellor

Scholz calling in fact, Vladimir Putin, ridiculous in his interview with Tucker Carlson and saying that it is very clear that he wants to take a

part of territory of its neighbor of Ukraine.


I will note, Joe Biden was trying to ask -- they tried to ask more questions about what went on yesterday in terms of the special counsel

report, he did not answer them. I'll note for most of that though, he did have notes on his lap in terms of trying to get the points across, even in

those brief statements and then he spoke without notes. Certainly not uncommon for him to speak with notes but he definitely did adhere to them

in the beginning of that chat. We'll continue to bring you more from the White House when and if we get it.

And in the meantime, the Super Bowl to remind you this weekend, if you're watching, you'll see the first Super Bowl ad in more than a decade from

these. I got them right here. I haven't eaten them. The beloved Oreos. The CEO of Mondelez, there he is, the company behind the air -- the Oreo and

the twist when we come back.


NEWTON: It is Super Bowl weekend and this year, no, it's not just about the action on the field. Clearly, Taylor Swift is already one of the biggest

stars of Sunday's game. And she's not even playing in it. Everyone is trying to get a piece of America's favorite pop star and NFL girlfriend.

Even health and beauty brands are spending big to reach women during those commercial breaks.


Now, get this, a 32nd spot will run you $7 million this year. Companies willing to pay that amount are making the most of their investment by

putting those ads out early you, can see them now, listen (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every little detail about our family will be on T.V., who would watch that? All right, let me twist on it. Hope you can keep up.


NEWTON: That spot for Oreo cookies came out last month about two weeks before the big game. Other companies like FanDuel started their campaigns

even earlier. And this is Oreo's first Super Bowl ad since 2013.

Dirk Van De Put is the CEO of Mondelez International, which makes of course these wonderfully yummy cookies. And he joins me now from Las Vegas.

So, you're in Vegas for the big game. I'll ask you later if you've got tickets and where they are. But for now, I want to ask you, everyone knows

what an Oreo is, right? I think so. I think it's a universal cookie. And yet, you're paying a lot for Super Bowl ad. What kind of payback are you


DIRK VAN DE PUT, CEO, MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL: Well, we expect a pretty good payback. We always measure the return on investment of our brands. And we

know that we'll execute it, we get a -- we get a very good return on these ads. And as you were saying, it's more than just the one ad in the -- in

the broadcast itself, it's the whole campaign, the teasing, the social media that you use around it that helps her getting the right feedback.

NEWTON: We were having a discussion about that. Now, is 7 million for 30 seconds, can we confirm that's what you're paying? And that that hasn't

gone up? Maybe it's gone up since 2013 but not since last year.

VAN DE PUT: Well, I don't think I can give you a number there, no idea.

NEWTON: But it's pretty close. It's a lot. You've seen the budget line?

VAN DE PUT: Yes, I know about the whole campaign is going to cost us. But again, if you want to have a brand like Oreo top of mind of consumers, and

whenever they're going to go for a cookie, you want them to first think about Oreo, you need to constantly keep the brand alive through

communication, innovation, new things.

The brand is also a brand that's very linked to cultural events. For instance, we're running this around the world with what is locally very

active, which happens to be the Super Bowl here in the U.S. But we link the brand to many other big events that are going on around the world. And that

basically gives you the return.

NEWTON: You are talking about keeping the Oreo front and center and sometimes that can be difficult given inflation in terms of the price

point, you know, it's been a rough few years. Can you give me an assessment of what you're seeing throughout all your brands in terms of the price of

ingredients, things like shipping, packaging? How the crazy increases abated? Do you see a point where we might actually see some decrease in


VAN DE PUT: It is a -- the way to think about it is that we have many different input costs. There is as you were saying the wages, there is the

transportation, there is all the different ingredients that we use. And what is strange is that now in 20 to 23, we had big inflation there.

So, this year, what we're seeing in 24, is some of these factors are coming down, but then others are going up quite a bit. And so, the net effect for

a company like ours is that we are still seeing quite a bit of inflation in our input costs this year, and we will have to unfortunately increase

prices again.

Now, the good news is that for this year, it's mainly our chocolate brands, milk at Cadbury, Toblerone that are affected because cocoa main ingredients

of chocolate is at its highest level in the last 30 years or so as it relates to the cost.

So, it's a strange phenomenon that everybody would expect the cost to come down. But it seems to be every year there's something else that starts to

increase in incredible way.

NEWTON: And so, it seems to be a cycle we can't avoid. So speaking of not avoiding things, I'm going to open up an Oreo right now because I cannot

resist. OK, now see this. I think people have already complained. Namely, some children I know who shall remain nameless that this sometimes shrinks.

OK, I just twist it.

Is it shrinking? And how do you really guard against that? Because it can really turn off a consumer because while we all love these cookies we can

do without, these are treats, right? They're luxuries. It's not an egg.

VAN DE PUT: Yes, well, I can assure you that it didn't shrink.

NEWTON: It's not my imagination.

VAN DE PUT: There is no less cream in there. I've seen all the chatter that exists online. I want to set the record straight, we have not touched the

Oreo cookie for a long, long time.

NEWTON: OK, and then, that leads to the next question. When we talk about all of these increases in inflation for these ingredients. I mean, how do

you measure that in terms of consumer sentiment? Where do you find you know, the sweet spot so to speak with luxury items?


Like you said, you're talking about things like chocolate sometimes that is a treat. How do you deal with pricing, when consumer sentiment may not

really be keeping up, but given all the price increases people see out there?

VAN DE PUT: Well, it's a mix of different things that the consumer looks at. So, eating habits are changing. And so, having an Oreo or having a

piece of chocolate, that is a snacking moment, moment for yourself or with somebody that you love, like your kids, it's a moment of being together.

And consumers in the pandemic are quite interested in that and they feel that a little moment of indulgent and connection is very acceptable for


And so, if you're on top, your brand is very known and interesting and constantly comes up with something new, the combination of the need of

humor and the awareness and the interest in the brand means at this stage that the consumer has not reacted increased prices.

NEWTON: I have to go but I was going to ask you, you're going in to the game or no?

VAN DE PUT: Yes, I'm going to the game.

NEWTON: Congratulations. It is a hot ticket. Unfortunately, we've run out of time and I can't ask you how much you paid for the ticket. But we will

have you back and perhaps grill you on that.

Thanks so much. Have a great time at the Super Bowl, really appreciate it.

VAN DE PUT: Thank you, thanks for having me.

NEWTON: And that was QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'll be back at the top of the hour for the closing bell. Up next, Connecting Africa.



NEWTON: And hello, I'm Paula Newton. This is the dash to that closing bell. We are just a few minutes away now and we are watching Wall Street history.

The S&P 500 is set to close for above the 5,000 mark for the first time ever, you see it there, up better now than half a percentage point, very

likely to hold at this point.

It was kind of subdued week on the Dow but look at that NASDAQ, so many people up better than one percent right now and so many investors looking

at that and hoping not just for better revenue and profit from those tech companies. But obviously, more guidance going forward for 2024 on that, it

also going close to the record.

As we said, the Dow, the outliner -- outlier there, down today, but not by so much, just couldn't really find any traction given revenues. You see

there key losers. Again, McDonald's still continuing to lose. Microsoft and Intel at the top and IBM way too far behind there.


Apple and Cisco also in the green. Disney has fallen to the bottom, but that remember was after an eye popping nearly 12 percent gain yesterday.

I am hearing the bell, my time to go. I'm Paula Newton. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.