This year’s Top 50 Food Packaging Companies list has some new comers and you may notice some names that appear to be missing. The new list represents today’s market place (actually, last year’s as even more changes have been made since December 2014). More mergers and acquisitions continue in the industry, paving the way for smaller (by comparison) company names to be on this list. See Post Holdings and Borden Dairy now present as number 45 and 48, respectively. Some notable transactions last year include Hillshire Brands’ merger with Tyson in August, and Procter & Gamble selling its pet brands to Mars in April 2014.
The Hartman Group’s (www.hartman-group.com) recent Hartbeat EXEC, titled, U.S Packaged Foods at a Crossroads, talks about the packaged food landscape and the consumer habits that are changing it. Recovery has been slow for CPGs since the 2009 recession and today it is clear that this is not going to change overnight. According to the company’s report, half of leading companies in packaged food and beverage have been consistently underperforming in U.S. topline growth, a sign of both weakening pricing power and underlying volume declines in their core businesses. Of those that have been keeping up with the sector growth, most have done so through large structural acquisitions and/or price increases.
This changing landscape is paving the way for smaller companies and private label to join in on packaged food sales.
“The direct-to-consumer model has provided an effective way for consumer product firms to test new products and reach out to consumers faster and more effectively. Additionally, we believe the online channel offers a way for smaller brands with advertising constraints, limited distribution, and natural/organic foods to level the playing field somewhat with larger consumer product firms,” says Erin Lash, CFA, Senior Equity Analyst, Consumer Packaged Goods at Morningstar, Inc.
The Hartbeat EXEC also went on to say that legacy brands are performing the worst as consumers shift their gaze towards new brands. There is something alluring about new, younger brands in American food culture, states the report. And I couldn’t agree more. The report gives examples of emerging foods, things like Sabra hummus, Brookside chocolates and KIND bars.
Our Top 50 Food Packagers list uses sources that include annual company reports, news reports, company websites and direct company contacts. Sales are based on calendar year 2014 or the most recent fiscal year that conforms to that timeframe. We used XE, the online currency counter (www.xe.com), where necessary. We have also drilled down to the best of our abilities using all available resources to separate out food revenue from beverages and other segment revenue.
*= estimate **=2013 figure. 2014 figure not available