The cereals that have filled millions of breakfast bowls worldwide since the 1890s found themselves boxed up in new company, Post Holdings, when private-label-cereal-giant Ralcorp Holdings spun it off in 2012. The maker of Grape-Nuts, Toasties, Honey Bunches of Oats, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, Bran Flakes, Pebbles, and Alpha-Bits is the third-best-selling breakfast cereal brand in the US (after Kellogg and General Mills). Post's manufacturing facilities are located in the US and Canada. Since its separation from Ralcorp, Post Holdings has moved beyond the breakfast table, adding snacks, active nutrition products, and pasta through acquisitions.
Post operated four business segments in fiscal 2015 (ended September), including: Post Foods, Michael Foods, Active Nutrition, and Private Brands.
The company's Post Foods business, which generated 27% of overall revenue in 2015, makes ready-to-eat cereal products. Its growing Michael Foods segment contributed 50% of revenue, and includes the business of MFI Holding Corporation (acquired in mid-2014). The segment makes and/or distributes its products from three divisions: egg products, refrigerated potato products, and cheese and other dairy case products. It also markets a wide variety of refrigerated grocery products such as bagels, butter, cheese, ethnic foods, and muffins.
Active Nutrition segment (12%) markets protein bars, shakes, and powders under the Dymatize and Supreme Protein brands and nutritional joint health supplements under the Joint Juice brand. Private Brands (11%), includes the businesses of Golden Boy Foods Ltd. and American Blanching Company, which produce private-label peanut and other nut butters, as well as dried fruits and snacking nuts.
More than 90% of the company's products are sold to customers in the US. The company has its warehouses, manufacturing facilities,and distribution facilities located through the US and Canada. Post Consumer Brands has eight owned manufacturing facilities, while Michael Foods owns six egg products production facilities.
Sales and Marketing
Post Holdings deploys a variety of consumer-targeted marketing campaigns across television, digital and print advertisement, coupon offers, co-op advertising with certain retail customers, and co-marketing arrangements with complementary consumer product companies. It also utilizes traditional billboard, print, digital, and social media advertising, as well as grass-roots advertising using sampling events and business drops.
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores is the company's largest customer, accounting for 10% of sales in fiscal 2015 (ended September). Michael Foods serves foodservice distributors, restaurant chains, and major retail grocery chains, with its largest customers being Sysco and US Foods, which accounted for 14% and 12% of sales, respectively. Private Brands products are sold in natural and specialty grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
The Post Foods business sells its products through an internal sales staff and broker organizations. The unit occasionally sells Post Food products to internet, food service, and military channels and may utilize certain broker and distribution services to sell outside of the US. Post Foods mainly sells to grocery, mass merchandise, supercenters, drug store, and club store customers.
Overall, to keep its brands on consumers' shopping lists, Post Holdings spent $137.3 million on marketing and advertising in fiscal 2015 (ended September), compared with $121.8 million and $118.4 million in fiscal 2014 and 2013, respectively.
As it diversifies its products with key acquisitions, Post recognized extraordinary growth in 2015. Revenues almost doubled from $2.4 billion in 2014 to peak at a record-shattering $4.7 billion in 2015. This historic revenue growth for was driven by Post's recent acquisitions of Michael Foods and several nutrition companies. Cash from operations also skyrocketed by 147% in 2015 as its cash earnings after accounting for acquisition assets grew for the year.
However, this growth strategy has also led to exorbitant acquisition-related expenses, which fueled the company's net losses of $343 million in 2014 and $115 million in 2015.
Post Holdings has continued to move beyond breakfast cereal into higher-growth categories, including snacks, sports nutrition, supplements and weight loss. The company's frequent acquisitions of other food companies in recent years, including its largest-ever $2.45 billion acquisition of Michael Foods, which gave it the Simply Potatoes, All Whites, and Crystal Farms brands -- helps emphasize this strategy of diversifying its menu to cater to shifts in consumer tastes toward increased consumption of protein and away-from-home snacks.
As part of its strategy to ultimately become a diversified consumer goods company, Post Holdings likes to acquire companies that expand its product offerings. In 2015, Post bolstered its breakfast line through its MOM Brands $1.15 billion acquisition, while in 2014 it stretched out of its comfort zone by entering the peanut butter and pasta food markets with its acquisitions of the American Blanching Company and the Dokota Growers Pasta Company, respectively. Expanding more into the nutrition business.
In addition to diversifying into higher-margin categories, Post plans to get back on the upswing primarily through focusing on sales to large customers, such as Wal-Mart. Increased marketing efforts via the Internet and social media can also be expected.
Prior to the spinoff, Post represented Ralcorp's branded cereal segment, which was in decline. (Ralcorp acquired Post from Kraft Foods in 2008 for about $2.7 billion, but its success with the brand was sporadic.) In the end, Ralcorp decided to launch Post on its own to focus on its own burgeoning private-label food business.