Business Strategies / Industry News

Ex Pillsbury Executives Plan to Relaunch RyKrisp

By Lauren R. Hartman, Product Development Editor

Aug 14, 2015

After ConAgra Foods Inc. announced in January that t would discontinue the thick, hearty crackers and close the 1920s-vintage RyKrisp factory in southeast Minneapolis, three former Pillsbury executives have bought the brand, and expect to return it to market this fall. However the new owners plan to sell the crackers online and in selected markets.

ConAgra sold the RyKrisp trademark to an investor group led by Ted Leavitt. Leavitt, who earlier was a consumer product marketer and management strategist, and the two partners worked at Minneapolis-based Pillsbury before it was bought in 2001 by General Mills.

According to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the new RyKrisp Inc. is planning to have the crackers made in suburban Chicago by a contract food manufacturer. New RyKrisp did buy some specialty equipment from the old RyKrisp plant through an online auction, said Leavitt.

Distribution of the crackers won’t be through major national supermarket chains, the report states. The executives plans to sell the product nationally via, and regionally through traditional grocery distribution networks. The networks will include RyKrisp’s three biggest markets of Portland, Ore., Los Angeles and the Twin Cities, with Minnesota being the single most important launch point.

The cracker brand got its start at the beginning of the 20th century as Scandinavian flatbread rounds and became popular nationally in the 1950s and 1960s. Volume began to stagger in the 1980s and ConAgra picked up the brand as part of a larger corporate deal in 2012. A decade ago, sales of the cracker were $12 million annually, Leavitt said.