Snacks & Candy

ConAgra Acquires Lincoln Snacks

Company makes Poppycock, Fiddle Faddle

OMAHA, Neb. -- ConAgra Foods Inc. said that it has acquired Chicago-based Lincoln Snacks, a privately held popcorn snacks manufacturer. Lincoln Snacks' brands include Poppycock and Fiddle Faddle and various retailers' private-label products.

The brands align with ConAgra Foods' strategy of optimizing its portfolio to continue sustainable, profitable growth.

Acquired by Chicago-based Ubiquity Brands in 2004, Lincoln Snacks generates approximately $45 million in annual sales of products that are available at all major grocers and [image-nocss] large national retailers across the United States and internationally.

Lincoln Snacks' Lincoln, Neb.-based manufacturing facility will continue to produce the two brands. The brands will report up through ConAgra Foods' Snack Foods operation headquarters in Edina, Minn.

This acquisition positions ConAgra Foods to further meet consumer demand for snacks, said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb. We plan to grow Poppycock and Fiddle Faddle through our marketing expertise and operating infrastructure, and we're pleased to welcome the brands into the ConAgra Foods portfolio.

ConAgra Foods manufactures and markets several leading national snacks brands, including Orville Redenbacher's and ACT II popcorn, Crunch 'n Munch, DAVID seeds and Slim Jim meat snacks. Other ConAgra brands include Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Healthy Choice, Hebrew National, Hunt's, Marie Callender's and PAM.

In other company news, ConAgra, the nation's largest microwave popcorn maker, said it will change the recipe for its Orville Redenbacher and Act II brands over the next year to remove a flavoring chemical linked to a lung ailment in popcorn plant workers. The decision comes a day after a doctor at a leading lung research hospital said in a warning letter to federal regulators that consumers, not just factory workers, may be in danger from fumes from buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn, reported the Associated Press

The Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association said the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of diacetyl as a flavor ingredient, and diacetyl occurs naturally in foods such as butter, cheese and fruits.

ConAgra spokesperson Stephanie Childs said the company decided to remove the butter flavoring diacetyl from its popcorn because of the risk the chemical presents to workers who handle large quantities. The chemical diacetyl has been linked to cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare life-threatening disease often called popcorn lung.

The company posted the following statement on its website: ConAgra Foods is confident that microwave popcorn is safe to prepare and consume. Additionally, the [FDA] considers diacetyl to be safe for use in food, and no definitive study to date has shown any reason for concern about diacetyl in microwave popcorn for consumers. But to eliminate even the perception of risk for consumers, and to provide the safest possible environment for workers who handle large quantities of diacetyl, the company has decided to eliminate the use of added diacetyl in its microwave popcorn products.

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