Pinnacle cracking the whip on Wish-Bone

by Monica Watrous
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Forthcoming innovation will address challenges in salad dressing category.

BOSTON — When Pinnacle Foods acquired the Wish-Bone salad dressing business from Unilever in 2013, the company shared big plans for reinvigorating the brand. Two years later, Bob Gamgort, chief executive officer, said Wish-Bone has been a weak spot in Pinnacle’s portfolio, which includes Duncan Hines baking mixes, Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Vlasic pickles.

 “I want to give you an update on Wish-Bone and shelf-stable salad dressing, the one category we haven’t gained share year-to-date,” Mr. Gamgort said during a Sept. 9 presentation at Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston.

Since Pinnacle bought the brand, Wish-Bone has remained in the No. 3 position in the shelf-stable salad dressings category, according to market data shared during the presentation. Part of the problem, Mr. Gamgort said, is the category is highly competitive.

Bob Gamgort, c.e.o. of Pinnacle

“One of the things that’s interesting is salad consumption is up, and salads as a meal consumption is up, but the shelf-stable portable salad dressing category has been flat to down,” Mr. Gamgort said. “There are some impediments to the category… And so our innovation process is to go after those challenges within the category and solve them through our innovation.”

Until recently, Pinnacle was unable to innovate for Wish-Bone because Unilever continued manufacturing the products while Pinnacle built a plant for the brand in Illinois. In-house manufacturing will not only unlock synergies for Pinnacle, Mr. Gamgort said, but also will allow the company to implement “breakthrough innovation.” The company is planning a robust new product pipeline for Wish-Bone that is set to launch in early 2016.

“We’re now off the Unilever agreement,” Mr. Gamgort said. “We are running 100% out of our new facility in St. Elmo, Ill. It’s running well. And that’s why we’re going to be able to deliver the synergies as well as launching innovation.”
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