John B. Sanfilippo & Son (JBSS) has built an empire out of working for peanuts. One of the largest processors of peanuts, almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, and other nuts in the US, JBSS markets the nuts as a snack and a baking ingredient under a number of private labels, as well as its own name brands, including Fisher, Orchard Valley Harvest, and Sunshine Country. It also produces and distributes other foods and snacks, such as peanut butter, dried fruit and trail mixes, corn snacks, sesame sticks, and candy. Its products are sold worldwide to consumers (via retailers) and, less so, commercial ingredient channels (food service and industrial markets), contract packagers, and export distributors.
Most of JBSS's sales are in the US. Exports represented 5% of the company's sales. The company has processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution operations, and a warehouse in Elgin, Illinois, and owns production facilities in Bainbridge, Georgia; Garysburg, North Carolina; Selma, Texas; and Gustine, California. It runs an outlet store at its production facility in Elgin, and a retail store in the Chicago area.
Sales and Marketing
Consumer demand drives about 60% of JBSS's sales. Big customers include Wal-Mart Stores, Target, and PepsiCo, which accounted for 22%. 15%, and 11% of sales in fiscal 2013 (ended June). Other food retailers include Kroger, Publix, Hannaford, Jewel-Osco, and Giant Eagle.
JBSS markets its nuts through its own sales department and a network of some 90 independent brokers and various independent distributors and suppliers. Marketing and advertising expenses were about $11,000, $8,950, and $7,865 in fiscal 2013, 2012, and 2011, respectively.
The nut company's sales increased 5% in fiscal 2013 (ended June) versus the prior year, to $734 million. Net income rose 27% over the same period to $21.7 million. Sales volume (measured as pounds sold to customers) increased 4% due primarily to higher sales of Fisher snack and recipe nuts and private brand snack nuts to new and existing customers. Lower prices also helped spur consumer demand for nuts during the second half of fiscal 2013.
Over the past four years, JBSS's sales have risen about a third, which the company attributes to its five-year strategic plan (launched in fiscal 2009).
JBSS's five-year plan for growth (adopted in fiscal 2009) includes acquisitions, promotion of its branded products, international expansion, and other related strategies for increasing private brand product sales.
Mergers and Acquisitions
As part of its strategy to expand its market presence through an enhanced portfolio, in fiscal 2010 JBSS acquired Modesto, California-based Orchard Valley Harvest for approximately $32.9 million. The purchase gave JBSS an established manufacturer of branded and private-label nut and dried fruit products sold in the prized produce department of food stores. Produce is cited by JBSS as a fast growing sector in food retailing, with consumers spending more time and more money in such "perimeter of the store" areas. This trend is fueled by the continued popularity of convenience foods paired with consumer demand for healthier-eating alternatives. To cut costs, JBSS relocated Orchard Valley Harvest's operation in Modesto to facilities in Gustine, California, and Elgin, Illinois.
The Sanfilippo family owns about 51% of the company; the Valentine Group (headed by board member and former president Mathias Valentine) owns about 24%.