Nestle began as a condensed milk company in Cham, Switzerland in 1866. In the early 20th century, the company merged with the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, making its first entry into the U.S. market. The company survived World War I, and its coffee was a staple for U.S. servicemen serving in Europe during World War II. After the war ended, Nestle began making many acquisitions and diversifying its portfolio of products. Today, Nestle is the biggest food company in the world.
Nestle has made no secret of its desire to transition into the healthy foods market, and solidified that stance when it was announced on January 16, 2018 that they would be selling their U.S. candy business to Ferrero, the Italian company best known for Nutella, for $2.8 billion.
Here are some of the largest companies Nestle has acquired, according to company's most recent annual report.
Nestle Purina PetCare is a wholly owned subsidiary based in St. Louis, Missouri. Purina was acquired by Nestle in 2001 for $10.3 billion. Today, Nestle Purina PetCare is considered a leader in global pet care sales. In 2017, pet care represented 13.9% of Nestle's sales. Nestle has positioned itself as a market leader in this space, with popular brands such as Friskies, Fancy Feast, Mighty Dog and Alpo.
Recently, Purina has focused on updating products to include more recognizable ingredients and simpler ingredient lists. The company has seen strong results from campaigns aimed at addressing the trend of natural products.
Nestle merged its U.S. ice cream business with Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream in 2002. The deal was valued at $2.4 billion and gave Nestle control of the new company. Nestle, which already manufactured the Drumsticks brand, gained Haagen-Dazs and Edy's brands as well as a national distribution system. At the end of 2017, Nestle reported that milk and ice cream products comprised 14.9% of sales. Nestle has seen a strong demand for healthier offerings and has invested in clean labels, pure ingredients and products free of artificial colors and flavorings. In 2017, Nestle remained the market share leader in the super premium, frozen snacks and premium categories despite losing market share in each category since 2011. The company continues to invest heavily in its ice cream marketing to maintain market share and appeal to changing consumer tastes.
Gerber was acquired by Nestle in 2007 for $5.5 billion. Company sales the same year totaled $1.95 billion.
The global baby food market is forecast to be worth over $76 billion by 2021. Prior to the Gerber acquisition, Nestle had no major presence in the U.S. baby food market, and it mainly served the Brazilian and Chinese markets. In 2017, Nestle Nutrition, which now includes Gerber, had slightly positive organic growth driven by price increases in the United States. In China, organic growth saw some improvement in the second half of the year. Price decreases and lower demand resulted in negative growth in Brazil.
DiGiorno is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nestle and was acquired from Kraft Foods in 2010 for $3.7 billion. Kraft wanted to shed the DiGiorno portfolio to focus on confectioneries, some of the same products that made Nestle so successful. The portfolio includes brands such as Tombstone, Jacks, California Pizza Kitchen and Delissio. The fit made sense for Nestle, which already has many other brands in the U.S. frozen foods market. The prepared dishes and cooking aids division comprised 13.3% of sales. DiGiorno continues to be the undisputed champion of the U.S. frozen pizza aisle.
Nestle announced on December 5th, 2017 that it would buy dietary supplements manufacturer Atrium for $2.3 billion. The acquisition marks Nestle's latest push into medical nutrition. Atrium adds multivitamins, probiotics and more to Nestle's vast portfolio. Before being acquired, Atrium's 2017 sales were expected to top $700 million.
The Bottom Line
Nestle has many familiar brands under its umbrella. Honorable mentions include Nespresso, Stouffer and San Pellegrino. As consumer tastes change, the company continues to respond with choices in weight management, water, and nutrition to offer consumers the wholesome options they are demanding.