Del Monte’s former pet unit gets new name it loves: Big Heart Pet Brands

San Francisco Business Times Online:  Mark Calvey – 19 February 2014

Del Monte’s former pet products division has picked up a new moniker after selling off the ubiquitous Del Monte canned food.

San Francisco-based Big Heart Pet Brands’ product menu includes Meow Mix, Milk-Bone dog treats, Natural Balance, 9Lives, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, and Kibble ‘n Bits, among others.

The new name follows the Feb. 18 sale of Del Monte’s consumer products operations, including the company’s use of the Del Monte name, to Del Monte Pacific Ltd.

It’s the more profitable pet products, not the slim margins on canning fruits and vegetables, that likely attracted a $5.3 billion buyout agreement on Thanksgiving Day in 2010[]. An investor group led by KKR, Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Partners closed on the deal the following year.

“As a standalone pet products company, Big Heart Pet Brands will be singularly focused on capturing growth opportunities in the expanding $21 billion pet products category,” said Dave West, president and CEO of Big Heart Pet Brands. “We are uniquely positioned with a powerful and broad pet portfolio.”

Big Heart was eager on Wednesday to tout the pedigree of the industry veterans running Big Heart. West was previously president and CEO at Hershey (NYSE: HSY) before joining Del Monte in 2011. Executives have also worked at Kraft Foods, (NASDAQ: KRFT) Campbell Soup, (NYSE: CPB) PepsiCo, (NYSE: PEP) Clorox, (NYSE: CLX) Procter & Gamble, (NYSE: PG) and Gillette, which P&G now owns. That almost covers the universe of consumer products.

I predict the next big step for Big Heart will be a warm embrace of Wall Street through an initial public offering or outright sale of the company as the investor group looks to cash in on its investment.