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ConAgra Brands is one of America's leading food companies, producing a wide range of shelf-stable grocery brands, regrigerated dairy products and frozen prepared meals. Unlike more international manufacturers such as Nestlé, the group's background is as a commodity-based business, in flour milling and meat processing, and it only began its move into packaged goods in the 1980s. This transformation accelerated dramatically in 2002 when ConAgra sold off virtually all of its $12bn portfolio of commodity businesses. Since 2005 the group has been aggressively repositioning its traditionally value-priced products to appeal to a more discerning audience. In 2013, it finally won a long battle to acquire private label manufacturer Ralcorp, becoming the clear leader in that sector in the US. Yet poor performance led to a complete turnaround just two years and a decision to exit the private label sector altogether. Commercial wholesale operations, such as potato processing giant Lamb Weston, have also been divested. What remains is a collection of packaged foods brands that are distinctly American in focus with only minimal distribution outside North America. In summer 2018, ConAgra agreed to acquired smaller rival Pinnacle Foods, also a force in frozen meals and culinary products, for $10.9bn including debt. That expanded the portfolio to around 60 separate brands. Original ConAgra brands include Marie Callender's, Healthy Choice, Banquet and other frozen meals; Orville Redenbacher's, Slim Jim, Duke's, Alexia, Frontera and Angie's snacks; Reddi-wip, Fleischmann's and Blue Bonnet refrigerated dairy; and Hebrew National meats. The Pinnacle deal added Birds Eye frozen meals, Vlasic pickles, Duncan Hines baking products and many others. Sean Connolly is group CEO. Revenues for the year to May 2021 were $11.2bn with net income of $1.3bn.
Capsule checked 18th January 2022
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Historical profile information for ConAgra Brands
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jun 2018: There is further consolidation underway among US-based food manufacturers. ConAgra Brands has agreed to acquire smaller rival Pinnacle Foods, which has a similarly mixed portfolio of mainly B-list or C-list food brands. Deal price was reported as $8.1bn in cash and stock, or $10.9bn including Pinnacle's debt. Merger will create the second largest player in frozen foods behind Nestle, combining ConAgra's Healthy Choice, Marie Callender's and Banquet frozen meals and side-dishes with Pinnacle's Birds Eye, Hungry Man and Van de Camp's. The combined company will also manage an extensive collection of shelf-stable brands. Pinnacle adds Vlasic pickles, Duncan Hines bakery products and the Wish-Bone salad dressings among other to ConAgra's existing portfolio.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2017: Conagra continued to prune its brand portfolio with a deal to sell the Wesson cooking and salad oil brand to JM Smucker for around $285m, about the same as the brand's annual sales. Conagra will continue to manufacture the product under contract for the first year of the deal. The company could be clearing the decks in advance of a big new acquisition. Several media outlets reported that it had been negotiating to acquire US rival Pinnacle Foods, owner of Birds Eye frozen foods as well as a sizeable collection of other grocery products. Those talks fizzled out as a result of disagreements over price but Conagra is said to be keen still to tempt Pinnacle back to the table. Conagra CEO Sean Connolly had previously attempted to acquire Pinnacle when he was CEO of Hillshire Brands, but that deal fell apart following the hostile takeover of Hillshire by Tyson Foods.
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Nov 2015: US food company ConAgra announced another major change to its structure. Hot on the heels of the sale of its ailing private label division, the company now says it will spin off food service arm Lamb Weston next year as a separate public company. The slimmed down and renamed ConAgra Brands will have sales of around $7.2bn, while Lamb Weston - which supplies potato products to McDonald's and other restaurant chains - has revenues of around $3bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: ConAgra finally found a buyer for its struggling private labels division, acquired at great expense from Ralcorp only two years ago. CEO Sean Connolly, appointed earlier this year, quickly identified the disposal of the business as one of his first tasks. It is to be acquired by private label specialist TreeHouse Foods for $2.7bn, little more than half what ConAgra paid for the business.
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Aug 2015: ConAgra Foods announced the departure of EVP & chief marketing officer Joan Chow. Her duties were transferred to Darren Serrao who joins from Campbell Soup Company in the newly created role of chief growth officer.
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