ConAgra Foods, Inc. (NYSE: CAG)
|1 Conagra Dr.||Phone: 402-240-4000|
|Omaha, NE||Fax: 402-240-4707|
|United States||Map This Company|
|http://www.conagrafoods.com||Hoover's coverage by Sylvia Lambert|
Alva Kinney founded Nebraska Consolidated Mills in 1919 by combining the operations of four Nebraska grain mills. It did not expand outside Nebraska until it opened a mill and feed processing plant in Alabama in 1942.
Consolidated Mills developed Duncan Hines cake mix in the 1950s. But Duncan Hines failed to raise a large enough market share, and the company sold it to
Poorly performing subsidiaries and commodity speculation caused ConAgra severe financial problems until 1974, when Mike Harper, a former
ConAgra moved into consumer food products in the 1980s. It bought Banquet (frozen food, 1980) and within six years had introduced almost 90 new products under that label. Other purchases included Singleton Seafood (1981), Armour Food Company (meats, dairy products, frozen food; 1983), and RJR Nabisco's frozen food business (1986). ConAgra became a major player in the red meat market with the 1987 purchases of E.A. Miller (boxed beef), Monfort (beef and lamb), and Swift Independent Packing.
Confident it had found the right path, ConAgra continued with acquisitions of consumer food makers, including Beatrice Foods (Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, Hunt's tomato products) in 1991. In 1997 the company agreed to pay $8.3 million to settle federal charges of wire fraud and watering down grain. That year ConAgra named vice chairman and president Bruce Rohde as CEO; he became chairman in 1998. Also in 1998 the company bought GoodMark Foods, maker of Slim Jim, and Nabisco's Egg Beaters and table spread unit(Parkay). ConAgra bought Holly Ridge Foods (pastries) in 1999 and announced a major restructuring.
ConAgra bought Emerge, an agricultural and land-use information software provider, from
During 2001 the company drew
In 2002 the
In 2003 the company began supplying packaged meat products for grilling to George Foreman Foods, which sells them via its Web site. That year it sold its
Also in 2003 ConAgra agreed to pay $1.5 million in cash and job offers to settle an
In keeping with its strategy to focus on its branded and value-added food business, in 2003 ConAgra sold United Agri Products to Apollo Management for stock and securities. The deal was worth about $600 million. In 2004 it sold its minority interest in the beef and pork processing operations of Swift Foods to HM Capital Partners. The deal was worth $194 million. ConAgra also sold Swift's feedlot operations to Smithfield Foods for an undisclosed amount.
ConAgra sold its turkey hatchery and breeding business to Ag Forte in 2004. It sold its Canadian and US crop inputs businesses and its Spanish feed and Portuguese poultry businesses that year as well. In addition it sold
In 2005 ConAgra sold its remaining 15 million shares of
ConAgra agreed to pay a $14 million shareholder settlement in 2005 regarding a lawsuit claiming fictitious sales and mis-reported earnings at its former subsidiary United Agri Products.
In a move to demonstrate its commitment to the humane treatment of animals, in 2006 ConAgra urged its poultry suppliers to consider slaughtering chickens in a more humane manner called controlled-atmosphere killing. The process, which ConAgra has only suggested to its suppliers, is approved by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Rodkin continued the company redo, focusing on portfolio trimming, when, in early 2006, he announced plans to sell a large part of ConAgra's refrigerated-meats business. The brands involved in the sale include some of the company's best-known: Armour,
Not long after that, it agreed to sell of the rest of its refrigerated meats business that it had for sale to Smithfield as well. The deal, which became final in October 2006, cost Smithfield $571 million in cash. That same month, it sold its Butterball Turkey unit to Carolina Turkeys for $325 million. (Carolina subsequently changed its company name to
Divesting almost faster than one can keep track of, one day after the Butterball deal was completed, ConAgra sold its MaMa Rosa's Pizza operations to investment firm, the Plaza Belmont Management Group. (MaMa Rosa's is refrigerated -- not frozen, pizza -- and competes in a different market than other pizzas, albeit frozen, powerhouses such as
In another move to improve long-term operating performance, ConAgra announced its intention to sell off its seafood and domestic and imported cheese businesses. To that end, the company sold its surimi business, including the Louis Kemp brand, to
The company added to its Lamb Weston branded potato products with the 2008 acquisition of Watts Brothers. With operations in Washington and Oregon, Watts is a vegetable-processing company that has annual sales of some $100 million. It has retail, foodservice, and industrial customers throughout the US, as well as in Mexico, Japan, China, and other Far East countries. The deal also included Watts' organic dairy, fertilizer, cold storage, packaging, and agricultural farming businesses.
In early 2007 salmonella was found in some of the company's Peter Pan and Great Value (a
Just two months later, the company voluntarily stopped production at the Missouri plant that makes its Banquet and generic brands of frozen turkey and chicken pot pies after learning that the were linked to some 140 cases of salmonella in 30 states. ConAgra did not recall the pies but offered mail-in refunds and store returns. The
As part of its strategy to add to its brand-name offerings, in 2007 ConAgra acquired
The company acquired
ConAgra sold its trading and merchandising operations (ConAgra Trade Group) in 2008 to a group of investors that included the Ospraie Special Opportunities Fund for $2.8 billion. The sale was part of the company's long-term strategy to exit the commodities business and concentrate on its consumer food products. Saying it couldn't give the brand the attention it needs, in 2008 the company sold its Knott's Berry Farm jam and jelly business to
In a tragedy that made the evening news, three ConAgra workers were killed and some 40 were injured in an explosion and fire at a company Slim Jim manufacturing plant in Garner, North Carolina, in June 2009. It was later determined that the blast was caused by a natural-gas leak. ConAgra partnered with the
During 2010 ConAgra unloaded its Gilroy Foods & Flavors business-to-business unit to
In 2011 ConAgra Foods made an unsolicited takeover bid to buy
In May 2012 the company completed the acquisition of Odom's Tennessee Pride, the #2 producer of frozen breakfast sandwiches in the US.
In January 2013 ConAgra completed its $6.8 billion purchase of Ralcorp Holdings.