Birds Eye Is Being Sold To World’s Largest Investment Company; Deal Includes Fulton Factory

The Birds Eye logo.
The Birds Eye logo.

The company that changed the way America eats is being sold.

Birds Eye Foods, which employs about 250 people at its plant in Fulton at last word, is being bought by Blackstone Group LP’s Pinnacle Foods Group for $1.3 billion.

Blackstone Group, according to Bloomberg.com writer Andrew Dunn, is

“…the world’s biggest private-equity company.

The Birds Eye purchase is the seventh-largest U.S. private equity deal of 2009 and Blackstone’s second-biggest of the year, after its planned acquisition of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s theme-park business for as much as $2.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

The deal will bring together two food companies with well-known brands in the marketplace. Pinnacle owns brands such as Duncan Hines, Vlasic, Log Cabin and Armour. Birds Eye’s own brand is credited with changing the way the nation eats, by perfecting a method of flash-freezing vegetables that didn’t destroy their taste and increased their shelf life in stores.

Birds Eye was bought seven years ago by some of its managers, along with Pro Fac Cooperative and the investment firm Vestar Capital Partners. The company, based in Rochester, closed all of its New York processing plants except for the one in Fulton.

In a news release announcing the sale, Brian K. Ratzan, Managing Director of Vestar Capital Partners indicated that the sale would allow Birds Eye to grow faster. “Pinnacle Foods is a great place for the Birds Eye Brand. It will have the resources of a larger food company platform as it expands its leadership position.”

3 Comments

  1. Does anyone know if Fulton will once again loose another factory? It doesn’t say if the Fulton Plant will remain open.

  2. Mel:

    It’s too early to tell. The sale hasn’t closed yet and the buying company made no indication in its press release of its plans.

    The buyer did say they were buying the business in order to grow it faster than its current owners could grow it. The seller said the same thing.

    And the Fulton plant is the only plant left in New York State, so all those veggies have to go somewhere.

    It’s impossible to say what will happen, but I wouldn’t assume right off the bat that this is bad news for Fulton.

    -Dave Bullard

  3. My concern is the same as Mel’s “Are we going to lose yet another factory/company? I am currently working the final winddown @ A.L. Lee Memorial and will be unemployed at the end December, and the loss of Lee Memorial has been hard enough on the Fulton Community, I am not sure if we can handle another closing of a company in this area. I hope the new owners realize this when they decide what they are going to the Birdseye Fulton Plant.

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