ConAgra Foods fills the refrigerators, freezers, and pantries of most households. The company makes and markets name-brand packaged and frozen foods that are sold in most retail outlets. ConAgra's cornucopia of America's best-known brands includes Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, and Marie Callender. It is also one of the biggest producers of seasoning and grain ingredients for the US food service, food manufacturing, and industrial markets. ConAgra Foods sold its private-label food business to TreeHouse Foods for $2.7 billion in early 2016. In July 2016, the company filed with the SEC to split into two public companies: Lamb Weston Holdings and Conagra Brands.
Change in Company Type
In 2016 ConAgra announced its plan to split into Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. (which will consist of frozen potato and vegetable products and related licensed and private label brands) and Conagra Brands (comprising the Consumer Foods and Foodservice businesses).
Until the separation is finalized, ConAgra's business remains divided into two reporting segments: Consumer Foods and Commercial Foods.
The Consumer Foods segment, which generated 62% of fiscal 2016 sales, consists of branded, private-label, and custom-made food products. The lineup ranges from meals to side dishes, snacks, and desserts (found frozen, refrigerated, or at shelf-stable temperature), and is sold by a variety of retailers and some food service operators, mainly in North America. Brands include Hunt's, Orville Redenbacher's, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-Wip, Slim Jim, Snack Pack, and Van Camp's.
ConAgra's Commercial Foods segment (38%) comprises commercially branded food products and ingredients used in the kitchens of food manufacturers, as well as food service and industrial customers.
ConAgra Foods sold its Private Brands segment to TreeHouse Foods for $2.7 billion in February 2016.
ConAgra operates mainly in the US from 27 manufacturing facilities across states mostly in the Midwestern, Sunbelt, and New England regions. It has international manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Austria, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, and the UK. ConAgra also operates general offices in China, Colombia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Singapore.
Sales and Marketing
Wal-Mart, ConAgra's largest customer, accounted for 16% of sales during fiscal 2016 (ended May). It promotes its products with advertising, consumer incentives, and trade promotions, and sells them in various retail channels.
ConAgra's advertising and promotion expenses totaled $371.4 million, $330 million, and $395.7 million in fiscal 2016, 2015, and 2014, respectively.
In fiscal 2016 net sales of the company decreased by $4.1 billion compared to the previous year.
The primary reason was due to decreased consumer foods revenues. Results reflected a 5% drop in volumes, primarily due to the exclusion of an additional week of results that occurred in fiscal 2015, as well as the negative impact on volume from pricing actions.
Net loss of the company increased by $424 million due to increased selling, general and administrative expenses and decreased sales, partially offset by lower interest expense.
Selling, general, and administrative expenses increased primarily due to a charge of $348.5 million reflecting the year-end write-off of actuarial losses in excess of 10% of its pension liability; charges of $232.8 million in connection with its SCAE Plan; and an increase in incentive compensation expense.
In fiscal 2016 ConAgra's net cash provided by the operating activities decreased by $273 million compared to the previous year.
ConAgra has been known to revamp or sell less-profitable lines of business, with particular focus on its Private Brands business in recent years. With a focus on recovery and stabilization during fiscal 2015, for example, the company announced its plans to exit the Private Brands business after disappointing results from the restructuring of its Ralcorp operations through its Supply Chain and Administrative Efficiency Plan (SCAE Plan), which aimed to optimize supply chain networks and slash costs across its selling, general, and administrative operations and through productivity improvements. Indeed, by February 2016, fellow food company TreeHouse Foods paid $2.7 billion cash for its Private Brands business.
Shortly thereafter, ConAgra announced a separation into two companies: ConAgra Brands and Lamb Weston. ConAgra Brands will include the companies well-known food names Chef Boyardee, Healthy Choice, ROTEL, Hunt's, PAM, Slim Jim, and Marie Callender's as well as other businesses like the seasoning and ingredients lines. Lamb Weston will spin off and take the frozen potato, sweet potato, appetizer, and vegetable products with it.
In mid 2016, ConAgra sold off some of its food ingredients assets, including its Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings business to flavors and fragrances company Givaudan for $340 million and food ingredient sourcing company J.M. Swank to investment firm Platinum Equity.
The company often enters joint venture partnerships to efficiently expand its product lines and geographic market reach. In 2014, ConAgra partnered with Cargill to distribute its ACT II microwave popcorn and Hunt's condiments products across Brazil. That year ConAgra also formed a joint flour-milling venture with Cargill and farmer-owned cooperative CHS. The three partners combined their flour-milling operations to form Ardent Mills, the largest flour miller in North America, with annual sales of more than $4 billion.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In May 2015, ConAgra expanded its Consumer Foods product line with the purchase of family-owned Blake's All Natural Foods, which specialized in natural and organic frozen meals such as pot pies, casseroles, and pasta dishes. The deal also positioned ConAgra to seize the fast-growing organic and natural foods consumer markets.
In July 2014, the company further broadened its Consumer Foods line with its acquisition of China-based TaiMei Potato Industry Limited, which processed frozen potato products.