ConAgra Focuses on Brands, Revises Name

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Jan 05, 2016

To highlight its focus on its brands, ConAgra Foods is changing its name to Conagra Brands, says a late December article in the Omaha World-Herald. The company noted the lowercase "a" is meant to de-emphasize its roots as a milling company. The name change is expected to coincide with the spinoff of the company's Lamb Weston frozen potato unit in fall 2016.

The new name will reportedly appear in small print on cans, boxes and jars and in larger letters at the downtown Chicago Merchandise Mart. While the update from ConAgra Foods to Conagra Brands won’t really matter to grocery store shoppers, branding experts say, it does signal to investors, employees and retailers how the company will change its focus.

The move to the word, “Brands” over “Foods,” indicates ConAgra’s next move, as it spins off its Lamb Weston frozen potato business, sells its private-label division and invests in its consumer brands, the company says. A corporate invention, the ConAgra name was with the company for less than half of its history. Originally, the company was named Nebraska Consolidated Mills, and hired a New York firm to develop a new name, which was adopted in 1971, and it became ConAgra Inc. In 2000, it became ConAgra Foods Inc., conveying its stronger presencein the food business, following a decade in which it directed business down the grocery aisle.

Along with the name change, ConAgra is replacing its internal messaging, no longer cooking with its “Recipe for Growth,” a five-point, five-year business strategy former chief executive Gary Rodkin unveiled in 2012. That strategy bolstered private-label food as a key pillar of the company's overall business, but now, the private label business is set to be sold.

According to the Omaha World-Herald article, current ConAgra CEO Sean Connolly reports he doesn’t want ConAgra to spend a lot of money advertising the new name; he’d rather put marketing dollars behind the brands. The new company name, will be attached to a smaller business with a focused portfolio of brands.

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