Thursday, October 18, 2007

Of Orphan Brands and Orphanages...

Procter & Gamble is now in the process of divesting its Folger's coffee and Pringle's snack food businesses, which are stagnating in growth despite its profit margins. This announcement comes as no surprise, given that P&G shedded many of its food brands from its product profolio in recent years. Its Duncan Hines baking mix line was sold to jam and jelly makerPinnacle Foods, while Jif peanut butter and Crisco oil & shortening went to J. M. Smucker, which in turn acquired a number of cast-offs resulting from the Pillsbury-General Mills merger, including the Hungry Jack and Martha White lines and the Pillsbury baking mix line.

But then, food products were not the only items P&G has divested itself of. It sold its Pert Plus shampoo and Sure deodorant lines to Innovative Brands, its Chloraspetic sore-throat line, Comet cleanser and Spic & Span household cleaner to Prestige Brands, and its Oxydol detergent and Biz bleach to Redox Brands. Additionally, it sold its Right Guard, Soft 'n' Dri and Dry Idea deodorant lines to Henkel-owned Dial, which also acquired Combat insectisides and Soft Scrub cleanser from Clorox and is allegedly poised to buy Unilever's North American detergent business (i.e. All, Wisk, Snuggle).

And then there is Phoenix Brands LLC, which has acquired several castoff product lines from Unilever (Sunlight dish liquid, Rit dyes, Niagara starch, Final Touch fabric softener) and from Colgate-Palmolive (Fab, Dynamo, and Ajax detergents). They don't have a web site with any relevant information, so something secretive is going on here...

There are also other rumored divestitures slated for orphaned brands as well. Case in point is Kraft which is slated to divest itself of its Post cereals and Maxwell House coffee lines. And there are other rumored divestatures that are too numerous to mention.

There is a moniker I've coined for these new homes for orphaned brand-name products: oprhanages. Is there a "Save the Children" type organization for these orphans?

12/22/07 UPDATE: Kraft Foods sold its Post Cerials division -- lock, stock and Grape Nuts -- to Ralcorp Holdings, best known for selling private-label cookies, crackers, cereals and the like.

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