Pinnacle Foods

Manufacturer of well-known brands including Vlasic Pickles, Swanson’s & Hungry Man frozen meals and Open Pit bbq sauces

Pinnacle Foods’ portfolio of well-known brands has touched the lives of consumers for over 150 years. Pinnacle has been a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of high-quality branded food products that specializes in frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable categories. At the time of the Kainos team’s investment, the Pinnacle portfolio included leading national brands, including Vlasic Pickles, Swanson’s & Hungry Man frozen meals, and Open Pit barbeque sauces.

The Value Creation Opportunity

Following the Company’s spin-out from the Campbell Soup Company, the Kainos team was excited to partner with Pinnacle due to its strong portfolio of well recognized brands with leading market positions that could continue to grow with some strategic focus and investment. Swanson and Hungry Man held leading positions in certain sub categories within frozen food, and Vlasic was the number one brand in shelf stable pickles. The Kainos team saw an opportunity to innovate and refresh the brands in the portfolio and also recognized opportunities for manufacturing and corporate overhead cost reduction. Additionally, the Company’s robust infrastructure lent itself to supporting growth through strategic acquisitions. The partnership began in 2001.

Change Capital At Work

The turnaround of Pinnacle Foods started with the Kainos team moving the Company’s headquarters to a new location to improve the ability to attract and retain talent. As a result, we were able to build out an entirely new experienced and entrepreneurial management team, many from within the industry network of the Kainos team. Alongside the new leadership, we implemented significant manufacturing and SG&A cost savings, allowing the Company to re-invest back into its brands. We revitalized the Hungry-Man brand through existing product improvements, new product innovation, and exciting new marketing campaigns that transformed this declining brand into the fastest growing frozen entrée brand in the category at the time the business was sold. The Kainos team also dramatically increased the profitability of Vlasic pickles by eliminating ineffective trade spending and changed the go-to-market strategy, resulting in a substantial improvement in profitability.

Following two years of partnership and after returning Pinnacle Foods to profitable growth, Pinnacle Foods was sold in 2003.