Food for America 1941 Beatrice Foods; Meadow Gold Dairies

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‘This Kodachrome film is a travelogue of epic length in which the camera rarely leaves the factory floor. Mrs. Harwood, a lady of a certain social position, decides to research her women’s club presentation on the American dairy industry by visiting Meadow Gold facilities across the country. Assisted by supportive company executives and a host of hospitable plant managers, she (and we) learn a great deal about the operations of the dairy industry and its importance in feeding forty million American families every day.’

Public domain film from the Prelinger Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

Beatrice Foods Company was a major American food processing company. In 1987, its smaller international food operations were sold to Reginald Lewis, a corporate attorney, creating TLC Beatrice International, after which the majority of its domestic (U.S.) brands and assets were acquired by Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts (KKR), with the bulk of its holdings sold off. By the early 1990s, the remaining operations were ultimately acquired by ConAgra Foods…


The Beatrice Creamery Company was founded in 1894 by George Everett Haskell and William W. Bosworth, by leasing the factory of a bankrupt firm of the same name located in Beatrice, Nebraska. At the time, they purchased butter, milk, and eggs from local farmers and graded them for resale. They promptly began separating the butter themselves at their plant, making their own butter on site and packaging and distributing it under their own label… On March 1, 1905, the company was incorporated as the Beatrice Creamery Company of Iowa, with capital of $3,000,000. By the start of the 20th century, they were shipping dairy products across the United States, and by 1910, they operated nine creameries and three ice cream plants across the Great Plains.

The company moved to Chicago in 1913, at the time the center of the American food processing industry. By the 1930s, it was a major dairy company, producing some 30 million US gallons (110,000,000 l) of milk and 10 million US gallons (38,000,000 l) of ice cream annually. In 1939, Beatrice Creamery Company purchased Blue Valley Creamery Company, the other Chicago-based dairy centralizer. This acquisition added at least 11 creameries from New York to South Dakota. Beatrice’s ‘Meadow Gold’ brand was a household name in much of America by the beginning of World War II. In 1946, it changed its name to Beatrice Foods and doubled its sales between 1945 and 1955 as the post-war baby boom created vastly greater demand for milk products.

From the late 1950s until the early 1970s, the company expanded into Canada and purchased a number of other food firms, leveraging its distribution network to profit from a more diverse array of food and consumer products. It came to be the owner of brands such as Avis Rent A Car, Playtex, Shedd’s, Tropicana, John Sexton & Co, Good & Plenty, and many others. Annual sales in 1984 were roughly $12 billion. During both the Winter and Summer Olympics that year, the corporation flooded the TV airwaves with advertisements letting the public know that many brands with which they were familiar were actually part of Beatrice Foods. These ads used the tagline (with a jingle) “We’re Beatrice. You’ve known us all along.”… However, the campaign was soon found to alienate consumers, calling attention to the fact that many of their favorite brands were in fact part of a far-reaching multinational corporation, and the campaign was pulled off the air by autumn…

In 1986, Beatrice became the target of leveraged buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. They ultimately took over the firm for US$8.7 billion — at the time the largest leveraged buyout in history — and over the next four years sold it off, division by division. Its smaller international food operations were sold to Reginald Lewis, a corporate attorney, creating TLC Beatrice International in 1987, becoming the largest business in America run by an African American and the first company to reach a billion dollars in sales, with a black man at its head. In 1990, the last of Beatrice’s assets were sold to ConAgra Foods. Most of Beatrice’s brand names still exist, but under various other owners…

Food for America 1941 Beatrice Foods; Meadow Gold Dairies video 44:47


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