Careers at ConAgra Brands
ConAgra Foods’ mission is to provide great food that today’s consumers want.
ConAgra Foods is a packaged food company. The firm operates two reportable business segments:
- Consumer Foods – Includes branded food sold in retail channels primarily in North America. Products are in a variety of categories (meals, entrees, condiments, pasta, sides, snacks, and desserts).
- Commercial Foods – Includes commercially-branded and private label food and ingredients sold to commercial, foodservice, restaurant, food manufacturing, and industrial customers. Products are frozen potato and sweet potato items and various vegetable, spice, and frozen bakery goods.
In 1919 Alva Kinney and his business partner Frank Little observed a trend of increasing grain production in the Midwest. Desiring to take advantage of this, they merged four grain mills in Nebraska to form Nebraska Consolidated Mills (NCM). The men initially focused on milling wheat at their four locations. However, in 1922 they bought a new mill in Omaha due to rising demand.
In 1936 R.S. Dickinson took over from Kinney as President and maintained the company‘s strategy. However, in the 1940s he sought expansion after witnessing similar growth efforts at top milling firms Pillsbury and General Mills. He launched a flour mill and an animal feed mill in Alabama, and began advocating for research into new prepared foods that used flour.
The research resulted in the introduction of Duncan Hines cake mix in the 1950s. While it was popular, it could not compete with established products by Pillsbury and General Millls‘ Betty Crocker -- only able to achieve a market share of 12%. So in 1956 NCM sold the Duncan Hines brand to Proctor & Gamble, and decided to focus expansion on basic commodities -- grains and feeds.
Over the next two decades as major millers diversified further into the prepared foods business, NCM stayed in its commodities lane, launching new flour and feed mills and distribution centers in the Northwest and Southeast. Thanks to its geographic expansion, by 1971 its name no longer felt relevant, and it renamed itself ConAgra, Inc. (a combination of consolidated and agra).
Despite the rebranding, the company faced financial difficulties in the 1970s due to many of its acquisitions being unprofitable – even facing bankruptcy in 1975. In the 1980s it changed course by focusing heavily on packaged foods. Through the decade it acquired many different types of firms in the category, and explored new and different formats such as kosher foods.
In the 1990s it grew at a rate of 35 acquisitions and joint ventures per year. In 1993 it purchased $500 million worth of companies, and in 1998 it bought $480 million worth of brands from Nabisco. It thus added numerous well-known names to its portfolio. In 2000 its name changed to ConAgra Foods, and in 2016, after spinning off its Lamb Weston business, it was renamed ConAgra Brands.
Benefits at ConAgra Brands
Business model of ConAgra Brands
ConAgra has a segmented market business model, with customer groups that have slightly different business needs. The company targets its offerings at two segments: consumers and businesses such as commercial, foodservice, restaurant, food manufacturing, and industrial customers.
ConAgra offers one primary value proposition: brand/status.
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It is an $8 billion firm with 40 locations and 13,000 employees. Its product portfolio includes numerous prominent brands, including Healthy Choice, Hunt’s, Slim Jim, Reddi-wip, Alexia, Blake’s, Frontera, Bertolli, P.F. Chang’s, and Marie Callender’s. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:
- Named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index six years in a row
- Recognized as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by CR Magazine four times
- Recognized as part of The Civic 50 by Bloomberg Businessweek and Businessweek.com
- Quality Achievement Award for Manufacturer of the Year from the Safe Quality Food Institute
ConAgra’s main channels for its Consumer Foods segment are retailers (grocery, convenience, mass merchandise, and club stores). Its main channel for its Commercial Foods segment is its direct salesforce. The company promotes its offerings through its website, social media pages, advertising, and trade promotions such as discounts, coupons, rebates, and volume-based incentives.
ConAgra’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. The company maintains a website called “ReadySetEat” that provides recipes for everything from appetizers to entrees to desserts.
ConAgra’s business model entails designing, developing, and producing its foods for customers.
ConAgra’s key partners are the suppliers that provide it with the raw materials it needs to manufacture its products. Most of the materials are commodities.
ConAgra’s main resources are its human resources, who include the food experts and engineers that design, develop, and produce its food products. The company maintains important physical resources in the form of manufacturing facilities, specifically:
- Consumer Foods – ConAgra has 27 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. as well as facilities in Argentina, Canada, Italy, and Mexico.
- Commercial Foods – ConAgra has 19 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. as well as facilities in Austria, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
ConAgra has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is cost of goods sold, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, both fixed costs.
ConAgra has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from sales of its products to consumers and its commercial customers.
info: Sean M. Connolly earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Vanderbilt University and an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin. He previously served as President and CEO of Hillshire Brands and as CEO of Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice.
info: David Marberger earned a BBA at the University of Massachusetts and an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Prestige Brands, Godiva Chocolatier, and the Tasty Baking Company.
info: Charisse Brock previously held several leadership roles at ConAgra Foods, including Vice President of Human Resources, and spent 15 years in human resources roles at The Quaker Oats Company/PepsiCo in the Consumer Foods Division.
info: Colleen Batcheler earned a B.A. in Political Science at the State University of New York College and a JD at Case Western Reserve University. She previously served as VP and Chief Securities Counsel at ConAgra Foods.
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