Food Processing: A History

As we celebrate our birthday, we look back at the incredible changes that shaped the food and beverage industry since 1940.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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The 2000s – Slimming down on all fronts

Fewer dollars spent on R&D and consolidation mean fewer employees must do more work. Product development times are shorter, and there is less time to build brands – which are under fire from less expensive, private label products. Foods are marketed to generational niches, especially aging baby boomers, and health solutions turn to reducing sodium and adding probiotics, fiber, and omega-3s.

2000
Kraft General Foods acquires Nabisco Holdings Corp. for $19.2 billion.

2001
International Multifoods acquires Pillsbury dessert and baking mix business.

PepsiCo acquires South Beach Beverage Co., whose innovative SoBe brand makes it one of industry's most successful companies, for $370 million.

General Mills acquires the Pillsbury Co. and Green Giant.

Nestle acquires Ralston Purina pet foods.

PepsiCo Inc. acquires The Quaker Oats Co.

2003
Mad Cow disease spotted in Canada; curiously it doesn't affect U.S. meat consumption.

To help consumers choose heart-healthy foods, the FDA requires food labels to include trans fat content, the first substantive change to the nutrition facts panel since the label was inaugurated in 1993.

An obesity working group established by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

2004
The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires the labeling of any food that contains a protein derived from peanuts, soybeans, cow's milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts and wheat.

J.M. Smucker Co. acquires International Multifoods for $840 million.

Nestle acquires Chef America (Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, Croissant Pockets) for $2.6 billion.

Dreyers Ice Cream2006   
Nestle takes full ownership of Dreyer's ice cream; also enters weight management market with acquisition of Jenny Craig for $600 million.

2007
Nestle completes acquisition of Gerber baby food brand for $5.5 billion.

Tropicana launches Tropicana Healthy Heart with Omega-3s, the first national orange juice to include omega-3s.

Walkers (PepsiCo's British chips brand) becomes the first major food brand in the world to display a carbon footprint reduction logo on its packs.

Altria Group Inc., formerly Philip Morris Cos., spins off Kraft Foods.

2008
FDA issues non-objection letters on new sweetener stevia; within days, Cargill Inc. (teamed with Coca-Cola) rolls out Truvia and Whole Earth Sweetener/Merisant (teamed with PepsiCo) debuts PureVia.

Betty Crocker iPad2009
Frito-Lay SunChips begins using the first fully compostable snack chip bag made from plant-based materials to significantly improve the environmental impact.

2010
Kraft Foods buys Cadbury for $19 billion.

Nestle acquires Kraft's frozen pizza business for $3.7 billion.

Betty Crocker Cookbook available for the iPad mobile digital device, featuring 2,500 of the most popular Betty Crocker recipes, high-resolution images and step-by-step cooking instructions.

Consumers take to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to remark on the loudness of Frito-Lay's SunChips compostable bag. Frito-Lay stops production of the compostable snack chip bag.

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