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General Foods Corporation - Lehman Brothers Collection

General Foods Corporation

List of Deals

General Foods Corporation was founded by C.W. Post in January 1895. In February 1922 the company was incorporated in Delaware as the Postum Cereal Company. The name of the business was changed to Postum Company in 1927 and finally, in 1929, the name General Foods Corporation was adopted.

Beginning in 1925 General Foods adopted a corporate strategy of broadening its product line by acquiring additional businesses, most of which had been in existence for over twenty-five years. In order to simplify the corporate structure, some subsidiaries were liquidated and merged into the company.

In 1926 General Foods acquired Minute Tapioca Company. It followed this purchase by adding, in 1928, Check-Neal Coffee Company of Nashville, Tennessee, producer of Maxwell House Coffee. In 1929 it bought General Seafood Corporation, Certo Corporation, and Frosted Foods Company. In 1930 it added Dunlop Milling of Clarksville, Tennessee, and in 1932 it bought Richard Hellman, Incorporated and the Best Foods, Incorporated.

The company continued buying companies throughout the remainder of the 1930s. It bought several brands of coffee from Arbuckle Brothers of Brooklyn, New York in 1937. The same year it added Snow King Baking Powder Company and the Kaffee Hag business of Kellogg Company. In June 1938 General Foods organized Frosted Foods, Ltd., in England to develop the quick-frozen business in the United Kingdom. During World War II, the acquisitions spree continued unabated. It bought Bay State Fishing Company in 1939. In 1940 it purchased the Collins Flour Mill in Oregon, and in 1941 it added Gulf Fish & Shrimp Company of New Orleans and National Seafoods Company of Galveston. In 1942 General Foods bought a Southern Farms poultry dressing plant in Maryland and Charles R. Phillips Company, flavor manufacturers of New York.

General Foods continued to add new subsidiaries that broadened its product line every year. It bought dog food producer Gaines Food Company in 1943. It bought canning companies and feed businesses. It even ventured outside the food business occasionally, adding a shipbuilding and repair yard in 1946. With so many new businesses, sales continued to grow. In 1943 General Foods had revenues of $259.9 million with net income of $36.9 million. Six years later, in 1949, sales for the company were nearly twice that at $474.6 million and earnings of $46.1 million. The company employed 19,000 in 1949 and had assets of $238 million, as compared to 1934 when it employed 7,400 and had $63 million in assets.

General Foods continued to expand during the 1950s through acquisitions while selling some businesses. In 1952 it sold Snider condiment business, and in 1953 Diamond Crystal Salt, Bluepoint Company, Connecticut Oyster Farms, Long Island Oyster Farms, and Rhode Island Oyster Farms were sold.

Growth through acquisitions continued unabated through the 1950s and 1960s. Increasingly, many of these were non-U.S. companies. For example, in 1956 General Foods bought La India, C.A., a leading processor of chocolate products in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1960 it bought a 70 percent interest in Etablissements Pierre Lemonnier S.A., a processor and packer of coffee in France. It also bought several companies in Mexico, including Rosa Blanca S.A., a maker of dehydrated soups, in 1961 and Cafes de Mexico S.A. in 1962.

By the early 1970s General Foods had grown into a highly diversified multi-national business comprising thirty-one plants in fourteen different countries. It had become one of the world's leading manufacturers of packaged food products, with more than thirty major brand names. In 1974 company sales had grown to $2.9 billion with net income of $119.5 million, and the company employed 47,000.

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