A Food Giant's Big Appetite

From farm to freezer, ConAgra makes its mark

The company's products are household names: Armour packaged meats, Banquet frozen foods and Country Pride chickens. But not many consumers have heard of ConAgra, the Omaha-based company behind those labels. Unlike such food combines as General Mills and Pillsbury, which invest millions to promote their identity, ConAgra has preferred to remain the quiet, self-effacing giant of the industry.

That tranquil obscurity is about to end. Earlier this month, ConAgra agreed to pay $1.3 billion to take over Beatrice, which owns an assortment of such familiar items as Hunt's tomato products, Wesson oils, Swift meats and Orville Redenbacher's popcorn. With combined sales...

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