Pinnacle Foods, Inc., is a packaged foods company, headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, that specializes in the shelf stable and frozen food categories.
The company was founded in 1998 as Vlasic Foods International, acquiring the Swanson TV dinners, Open Pit and Vlasic Pickles brands from the Campbell Soup Company. In March 2004, it acquired Aurora Foods of St. Louis, Missouri. In 2009, Pinnacle Foods acquired Birds Eye Foods, Inc.
Aurora Foods was founded by Ian Wilson, a former executive with Coca-Cola and Dole, in 1995. Wilson eventually used Aurora to purchase the Van de Kamp seafood brand from Pillsbury and several other brands.These brands were in many cases market leaders, but the parent companies no longer considered them a part of their core marketing strategy, and refused to spend any more money on new marketing and development.
In 2001, Wilson and other Aurora executives pleaded guilty to securities fraud for misrepresenting its financial statements. Wilson was sentenced to 33 months in prison and fined US$1 million.
In 2000, Jim Smith, a former executive with ConAgra, was named CEO and was charged with restoring Aurora Foods to health. He remained until 2002, which set events in motion leading to Aurora's acquisition. After the 2004 merger with Pinnacle Foods, Pinnacle closed the St. Louis offices, moving its operation to Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
In 2007, Pinnacle Foods was acquired by the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm based in New York City, for $2.16 billion.
In 2009, the Swanson brand was discontinued in the U.S., but remained use in Canada; also, Pinnacle Foods acquired Birds Eye Foods, Inc. adding a mix of frozen and specialty brands to its portfolio.
In 2013, Pinnacle Foods' Parsippany office was named Inc. Magazine's World's Coolest Office. That year, Pinnacle Foods had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, raising approximately $580 million for its owners, the private equity Blackstone Group. Shares began trading under the ticker symbol PF on April 4 at the upper range of its offering, $20 per share, thereby valuing Pinnacle Foods with a market capitalization of $2.3 billion.
Pinnacle was in Fortune Magazine's 2011 Top 1000 companies list.
In May 2014, Hillshire Brands announced it was buying Pinnacle Foods for $4.23 billion in a cash and stock deal. Hillshire Brands' portfolio includes Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, and Sara Lee.
On June 30, 2014, it was announced that Pinnacle Foods had scrapped its sale to Hillshire Brands, which would allow Hillshire to be acquired by Tyson Foods. Pinnacle will receive a $163 million payment as part of the breakup from Hillshire, and Pinnacle will also receive an expected $25 million in one-time costs connected to the scotched sale.
In November 2014, Pinnacle Foods announced it would acquire the plant-based protein food maker Garden Protein International Inc for a fee of $154 million. Its primary product is known by the brand name, Gardein (http://www.gardein.com), a selection of frozen plant-based entrees.
In November 2015, Pinnacle Foods announced it would be acquiring Boulder Brands for around $710 million, as part of the company’s strategy to expand its health and wellness services.
In March 2016, it was announced that CEO Robert Gamgort would be leaving Pinnacle to be the new CEO of Keurig Green Mountain. Mark Clouse, formerly of Mondalez, joined as the most recent CEO of the company.