ORLANDO, FLA. — B&G Foods Inc. has a history of picking up what may best be described as “under-loved” or “declining” brands, and in the past three years the company has completed seven acquisitions. But the acquisition that has the company’s top executive as excited as he’s ever been is Green Giant, which B&G Foods bought along with Le Sueur from General Mills, Inc. last fall for approximately $765 million in cash.
In a Jan. 12 presentation at the ICR Conference in Orlando, Robert Cantwell, president and chief executive officer of B&G Foods, called Green Giant an “iconic brand” and one that B&G Foods sees a lot of potential in.
“Well, the one thing I can tell you that’s different for us this time is we’ll certainly on anything we buy be a lot more innovative and a lot more nimble go to market,” Mr. Cantwell said. “This is the first time we’re going to put some real consumer marketing behind the brand.”
He said B&G Foods plans to put more than $32 million in marketing behind the brand, up significantly from the $15 million to $16 million that General Mills spent when it owned the brand.
“We may spend a little of that consumer marketing on some distribution gains where they’ve lost some distribution and push out distribution over the next 6 to 12 months and use some of the money that way,” he said. “We’ll see what the response is.”
He said Green Giant has not been pushed much by competition in the categories it competes over the past three to five years. As a result, innovation slowed. But B&G Foods sees a lot of upside in the brand, he said.
“First in gaining back some of what it’s lost, specifically in frozen,” Mr. Cantwell said. “It hasn’t lost as much in shelf stable. Shelf stable has declined a little bit with the consumer trends in the supermarket like most of us did in a lot of our categories over a number of years, but other than that it’s been relatively stable shelf stable.”
Mr. Cantwell vowed to pay attention to the very real opportunities available to the Green Giant brand.“We’ll see what the competition does, but they have a real competitor now and somebody who cares about what they own,” he said.