Kraft Foods Inc. History

Three Lakes Drive
Northfield, Illinois 60093

Telephone: (847) 646-2000
Fax: (847) 646-2922

Public Company, 83.9-Percent Owned by Philip Morris Companies Inc.
Incorporated: 1989 as Kraft General Foods, Inc.
Employees: 117,000
Sales: $34.7 billion (2000 pro forma)
Stock Exchanges: New York
Ticker Symbol: KFT
NAIC: 311230 Breakfast Cereal Manufacturing; 311320 Chocolate and Confectionery Manufacturing from Cacao Beans; 311330 Confectionery Manufacturing from Purchased Chocolate; 311340 Nonchocolate Confectionery Manufacturing; 311412 Frozen Specialty Food Manufacturing; 311421 Fruit and Vegetable Canning; 311511 Fluid Milk Manufacturing; 311513 Cheese Manufacturing; 311612 Meat Processed from Carcasses; 311821 Cookie and Cracker Manufacturing; 311823 Dry Pasta Manufacturing; 311919 Other Snack Food Manufacturing; 311920 Coffee and Tea Manufacturing; 311911 Roasted Nuts and Peanut Butter Manufacturing; 311941 Mayonnaise, Dressing, and Other Prepared Sauce Manufacturing; 311999 All Other Miscellaneous Food Manufacturing; 312111 Soft Drink Manufacturing

Company Perspectives:

We're there at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and anytime in between. You can find our brands at a French hypermarket, in a vending machine in Japan, or in any American grocery store. Around the globe, in 140 countries, our 117,000 employees are dedicated to bringing the world its favorite foods. Brands like Kraft, Jacobs, Philadelphia, Maxwell House, Nabisco, Oscar Mayer and Post. Our company is built on a history of quality and innovation that dates back literally hundreds of years. Over that time, Kraft Foods has grown from modest beginnings to become the second largest food and beverage company in the world. But no matter what our size, we've never lost sight of why we're here--to help make food a simpler, easier, more enjoyable part of life.

Key Dates:

Charles W. Post incorporates Postum Cereal Company, Ltd., having introduced Postum cereal beverage the previous year.
Postum introduces a new cereal called Grape-Nuts.
American Biscuit Company and New York Biscuit Company merge to form the National Biscuit Company (N.B.C.).
James L. Kraft establishes a wholesale cheese distribution business in Chicago.
J.L. Kraft & Bros. Company is incorporated.
N.B.C. launches the Oreo cookie.
Kraft opens its first cheese factory.
Postum Cereal goes public.
Kraft & Bros. changes its name to Kraft Cheese Company and goes public.
Postum begins diversifying with acquisition of the Jell-O Company.
Postum acquires Baker's chocolate and shortens its name to Postum Company.
Postum acquires Maxwell House coffee; Kraft merges with Phenix Cheese Corporation, maker of Philadelphia Brand cream cheese; Kraft introduces Velveeta process cheese spread; N.B.C. acquires Shredded Wheat Company.
Postum acquires controlling interest in Clarence Birdseye's General Foods Company; Postum changes its name to General Foods Corporation; Fleischmann Company, Chase & Sanborn, and the Royal Baking Powder Company merge to form Standard Brands.
Kraft is acquired by National Dairy Products Corporation but continues to operate independently.
Kraft introduces Miracle Whip salad dressing.
Ritz crackers are launched by N.B.C.
The Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner debuts.
The letters "N.B.C." in National Biscuit's official trademark are replaced by the word "Nabisco."
Kraft changes its name to Kraft Foods Company.
General Foods acquires Perkins Products, maker of Kool-Aid powdered beverage mixes.
National Dairy begins centralizing its operations, transforming Kraft from subsidiary to division.
Standard Brands acquires Planters Nut & Chocolate Co.
National Dairy renames itself Kraftco Corporation.
National Biscuit changes its name to Nabisco, Inc.
Kraftco is renamed Kraft, Inc.
Kraft merges with Dart Industries Inc., forming Dart & Kraft Inc., with Kraft continuing to operate independently as a subsidiary.
General Foods acquires Oscar Mayer & Co.; Nabisco and Standard Brands merge to form Nabisco Brands, Inc.; Nabisco Brands acquires the Life Savers Company.
Philip Morris Companies Inc. acquires General Foods; R.J. Reynolds acquires Nabisco Brands, forming RJR Nabisco, Inc. and its food unit, Nabisco Foods Group.
Dart & Kraft is demerged into Kraft, Inc. (the food operations plus Duracell batteries) and Premark International (the remaining operations).
Kraft sells Duracell; Philip Morris acquires Kraft.
Philip Morris combines General Foods and Kraft under a new holding company called Kraft General Foods, Inc.--although the two units continue to operate separately; Kraft General Foods International is also established; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts gains control of RJR Nabisco through a leveraged buyout; RJR Nabisco sells its European cookie and cracker business to BSN.
Kraft General Foods International acquires Jacobs Suchard AG; RJR Nabisco sells its Asia-Pacific operations to Britannia Brands.
RJR Nabisco goes public as RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp.
Jacobs Suchard acquires Freia Marabou a.s., the top Scandinavian confectioner; Kraft General Foods acquires RJR Nabisco Holdings' cold cereal business, including Shredded Wheat; Kraft General Foods divests its ice cream business and its BirdsEye frozen vegetables brand; RJR Nabisco launches the Snackwells line of low-fat cookies and crackers.
Kraft General Foods sells off its foodservice unit.
Major restructuring melds Kraft and General Foods into Kraft Foods, Inc.; Kraft General Foods International is renamed Kraft Foods International, Inc. and becomes a subsidiary of Kraft Foods, Inc.; Kraft sells its bakery division to CPC International.
RJR Nabisco sells its margarine and egg substitute business to ConAgra.
Following the divestment of its tobacco operations, RJR Nabisco changes its name to Nabisco Group Holdings Corp.; the company's sole asset is its 80 percent stake in the Nabisco food unit, now known as Nabisco Holdings Corp.
Philip Morris acquires Nabisco Holdings for $18.9 billion and begins integrating the Nabisco operations into Kraft.
Philip Morris sells a 16.1 percent stake in Kraft Foods Inc. to the public.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Anderson, Veronica, "Another Bid to Put Pep Back in Kraft's Step," Crain's Chicago Business, January 9, 1995, p. 3.
  • Boland, John C., "Putting It All Together: For Dart & Kraft, the Future Still Looks Super," Barron's, June 21, 1982, pp. 13+.
  • Bowman, Jim, "Kraft Offers Public Its Riches," Chicago Sun-Times, May 28, 2001.
  • Burns, Greg, "Will So Many Ingredients Work Together?: Philip Morris Puts Its Food Operations into One Kraft Empire," Business Week, March 27, 1995, p. 188.
  • Burrough, Bryan, and John Helyar, Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, New York: Harper & Row, 1990, 528 p.
  • Busetti, Max, "Kraft Foods: Now One Big, Happy(?) Family," Prepared Foods, February 1995, pp. 13+.
  • Cahn, William, Out of the Cracker Barrel: The Nabisco Story, from Animal Crackers to Zuzus, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969, 367 p.
  • Cochran, Thomas N., "Food for Thought: Kraft's Renewed Stress on Bread-and-Butter," Barron's, February 8, 1988, pp. 48+.
  • Crown, Judith, "Cheez Whiz Kids Hone Their Kraft," Crain's Chicago Business, December 6, 1993.
  • Dahl, Jonathan, "Dart & Kraft Decides to Split into Two Concerns," Wall Street Journal, June 20, 1986.
  • "Dart & Kraft Turns Back to Its Basic Business--Food," Business Week, June 11, 1984, pp. 100+.
  • Deogun, Nikhil, Gordon Fairclough, and Shelly Branch, "Philip Morris Agrees to Acquire Nabisco," Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2000, p. A3.
  • Deveny, Kathleen, "After Some Key Sales Strategies Go Sour, Kraft General Foods Gets Back to Basics," Wall Street Journal, March 18, 1992, p. B1.
  • ------, "Philip Morris Seeks to Gain in Europe with $3.8 Billion Bid for Suchard Stake," Wall Street Journal, June 25, 1990, p. A3.
  • Dreyfack, Kenneth, and James E. Ellis, "Kraft, Minus Some Extra Baggage, Is Picking Up Speed," Business Week, March 9, 1987, pp. 74+.
  • Dudley, Charles Eaves, Post City, Texas, Austin, Tex.: State Historical Association, 1952.
  • Ferguson, James L., General Foods Corporation: A Chronicle of Consumer Satisfaction, New York: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1985, 24 p.
  • Forster, Julie, and Becky Gaylord, "Can Kraft Be a Big Cheese Abroad?," Business Week, June 4, 2001, pp. 63, 66-67.
  • Freedman, Alix M., "Miles Will Lead Kraft General Foods: Marketing Whiz Must Smooth Merger at Philip Morris," Wall Street Journal, September 28, 1989.
  • Freedman, Alix M., and Richard Gibson, "Kraft Accepts Philip Morris's Sweetened Offer Totaling $13.1 Billion, or $106 a Share in Cash," Wall Street Journal, October 31, 1988.
  • Gallun, Alby, "Key Ingredient in Kraft's IPO: Philip Morris," Crain's Chicago Business, April 2, 2001, p. 1.
  • ------, "Kraft Loses Appetite for Two Candy Brands," Crain's Chicago Business, October 15, 2001, p. 3.
  • Hwang, Suein L., "Philip Morris to Reorganize Food Operation: Kraft, General Foods Units Will Be Merged in Bid to Repair Costly Rifts," Wall Street Journal, January 4, 1995, p. A3.
  • ------, "Unilever to Acquire Ice Cream Business Owned by Kraft Unit of Philip Morris," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1993, p. A4.
  • Johnson, Robert, "Dart & Kraft Sets a Spinoff to Divide Firm," Wall Street Journal, September 9, 1986.
  • ------, "Kraft Chief John Richman Weighs in with Leaner Firm but High-Fat Lines," Wall Street Journal, February 27, 1987.
  • Kiechel, Walter, III, "Justin Dart's Krafty Deal," Fortune, July 14, 1980, p. 82.
    Kraft, Inc.--Through the Years, Glenview, Ill.: Kraft, Inc., 1988.
  • Lampert, Hope, True Greed: What Really Happened in the Battle for RJR Nabisco, New York: New American Library, 1990, 259 p.
  • Liesse, Julie, and Judann Dagnoli, "Goliath KGF Loses Steam After Merger," Advertising Age, January 27, 1992.
  • Maher, Tani, "Kraft's Crafty Restructuring," Financial World, June 28, 1988, p. 10.
  • Matlack, Carol, "Smoke Alarms at RJR," Business Week, November 16, 1998, pp. 75+.
  • Mayer, Oscar G., Jr., Oscar Mayer & Co.: From Corner Store to National Processor, New York: Newcomen Society in North America, 1970, 24 p.
  • Ono, Yumiko, "CPC Will Buy Kraft's Bakeries for $865 Million," Wall Street Journal, August 8, 1995, p. A2.
  • ------, "Kraft Searches Its Cupboard for Old Brands to Remake," Wall Street Journal, March 12, 1996, p. B1.
  • Roberts, William A., Jr., "The 'Big' Gets Bigger," Prepared Foods, September 2001, p. 12.
  • Sanger, Elizabeth, "Still the Big Cheese," Barron's, August 19, 1985, pp. 51+.
  • Sherman, Stratford P., "How Philip Morris Diversified Right," Fortune, October 23, 1989, pp. 120+.
  • Sinisi, John, "KGF's New Dressing," Brandweek, September 28, 1992.
  • Therrien, Lois, "A Cup of Jell-O, Velveeta to Taste ...," Business Week, May 8, 1989, pp. 74+.
  • ------, "Kraft Is Looking for Fat Growth from Fat-Free Foods," Business Week, March 26, 1990, pp. 100+.
  • Wagner, Jim, "Nabisco's New Product Winning Streak," Food Processing, June 1994, pp. 54+.
  • Warner, Fara, "Kraft General Foods Moves to Mend Its Floundering Marriage," Adweek's Marketing Week, February 24, 1992.
  • Waters, Jennifer, "Whey to Grow: Kraft's New Chief Sets Agenda," Crain's Chicago Business, November 17, 1997, p. 4.
  • Wellman, David, "They're Big, They're Bad, They're Kraft," Supermarket Business, August 1997, pp. 24+.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 45. St. James Press, 2002.