Del Monte Foods on Feb. 18 closed the sale of all its food businesses – and its name – to unaffiliated company Del Monte Pacific Ltd. On the following day, legacy Del Monte renamed itself Big Heart Pet Brands, claiming to be "the largest standalone pet food and snacks company in North America."
Gone are the Del Monte, Contadina, College Inn, S&W and other brands and certain assets. Front and center are Milk-Bone, Meow Mix, Natural Balance, Kibbles 'n Bits, 9Lives, Milo’s Kitchen, Pup-Peroni, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs and Gravy Train.
“As a standalone pet products company, Big Heart Pet Brands will be singularly focused on capturing growth opportunities in the expanding $21 billion pet products category,” said Dave West, president/CEO of the "new" pet food company.
West spent a decade at Hershey Co., ultimately as president/CEO until joining Del Monte as CEO in 2011. Company chairman is James Kilts, who has an even longer pedigree in the food industry He began his career with General Foods Corp. in 1970 and went on to be an executive with Phillip Morris (merging Kraft and General Foods under the cigarette company), then heading Nabisco Inc. before it was folded into Kraft. He may be best known for negotiating the sale of Gillette Co., as its chairman and president/CEO, to Procter & Gamble for $57 billion. He then founded private equity firm Centerview Capital.
Big Heart Pet Brands will remain headquartered in San Francisco with key offices in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Burbank, Calif. The company also will maintain its existing pet food manufacturing plants and distribution centers and sales offices.
An on-again, off-again public company, Del Monte was taken private again in early 2011 by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Vestar Capital Partners and Kilts' Centerview Partners. The sale of half the company was first announced last October. Del Monte Pacific agreed to pay $1.68 billion; the food businesses generated annual sales of $1.8 billion.
Del Monte Pacific, with bases in Singapore and the Philippines, has licensed the Del Monte name but did not previously have a direct presence or brands in the U.S. It is not affiliated with other Del Monte companies in the world, including Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Del Monte Canada and Del Monte Asia Pte Ltd.
Del Monte Pacific is 67 percent-owned by NutriAsia Pacific Ltd., which itself is owned by the NutriAsia Group of Companies, which is majority-owned by the Campos family of the Philippines. The NutriAsia Group makes liquid condiments, specialty sauces and cooking oil.