McCormick Spice World
McCormick & Company (NYSE: MKC) is a Fortune 1000 company that manufactures spices, herbs, and flavorings for retail, commercial, and industrial markets. The company began in 1889 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. One hundred years later, McCormick moved from downtown Baltimore to the suburb of Hunt Valley, Maryland. McCormick has approximately 8,000 employees. The company is headquartered in Sparks, Maryland.
Its brands include McCormick, Zatarain’s (Louisiana, United States), Old Bay Seasoning (United States), Ducros (Europe), Club House (Canada), Billy Bee Honey (Canada), Schwartz (United Kingdom), Aeroplane Jelly and Keen’s Mustard (McCormick Foods Australia), Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia (United States), and most recently Lawry’s and Adolph’s.
Willoughby M. McCormick started the business in Baltimore at age 25 in 1889. From one room and a cellar, the initial products were sold door-to-door and included root beer, flavoring extracts, fruit syrups and juices. Seven years later, McCormick bought the F.G. Emmett Spice Company and entered the spice industry. In 1903, Willoughby and his brother Roberdeau incorporated the company in Maine; it was reincorporated in Maryland in 1915. Most of the company’s assets and records were destroyed in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, though a new five-story building was erected on the same site within 10 months. Willoughby’s nephew Charles P. McCormick began working for the company in the summer of 1912 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 1925.
Willoughby died on November 4, 1932, and Charles was elected President and Chairman of the Board at age 36. The big “Mc” became a trademark for nearly all U.S. products in 1941. McCormick acquired A. Schilling & Company of San Francisco in 1947; established in 1881, it was a coffee, spice and extract house that enabled McCormick to begin coast-to-coast distribution in the U.S.
Ben-Hur Products, a similar California-based company, was acquired in 1953, and Canada’s largest spice firm, Gorman Eckert & Co. Ltd. of London, Ontario, was acquired in 1959. Gilroy Foods of Gilroy, California became a wholly owned subsidiary in 1961. Other acquisitions included Baker Extract Co. in 1962, Cake Mate cake decorating in 1967, Childers Foods (later part of Golden West Foods) in 1968, and Tubed Products, an Easthampton, Massachusetts contract food packer and producer of plastic tubes, also in 1968. Charles P. McCormick retired in 1969 and was named Chairman Emeritus. He died of a heart attack in 1970.
McCormick acquired Golden West Foods, a frozen foods manufacturer and distributor in Gilroy, California, in 1973 and entered that field under the Schilling brand label. The McCormick (east) and Schilling (west) retail units were consolidated to form a Grocery Products Division in 1975 with its headquarters in Baltimore. Additional acquisitions included All Portions in 1975, TV Time Foods of Chicago in 1976, Astro Foods of San Rafael, California in 1977, and Han-Dee Pak of Atlanta in 1979.
In October 1979, Swiss pharmaceutical firm, Sandoz, Ltd., announced its intention of purchasing the company. McCormick sued Sandoz in May 1980 and by September Sandoz agreed to relinquish its efforts to purchase McCormick and sold the shares that it acquired in its attempt to purchase the company.
Setco, a plastic bottles producer in Culver City, California, and Stange, a specialty flavorings and colorings company of Chicago, were purchased as subsidiaries in 1981. The company acquired Paterson Jenks, a publicly held United Kingdom corporation, in 1984, and Schwartz, the largest UK spice line. Other acquisitions included Armanino Farms, the world’s largest grower and processor of chives, from Armanino & Son, Inc., of San Francisco in 1986; and three California companies in 1987: Gentry Foods of Gilroy, Parsley Patch ofWindsor, and The Herb Farm of Encinitas. Charles P. McCormick was elected President and Chief Executive Officer in 1987 and re-elected CEO and Chairman of the Board in 1988. The company celebrated its centennial in 1989 with events primarily for employees and those responsible for its success, and arranged for the musical group Up with People to give a series of performances across the U.S. for schools, churches, hospitals and similar organizations.
McCormick was sold an interest in the Old Bay brand in 1990, and acquired Mojave Foods Corporation of Los Angeles in 1991, and the consumer products business of Golden Dipt Company in 1993. McCormick’s 1994 acquisitions included Grupo Pesa of Mexico, Tuko Oy of Finland, Butto of Switzerland, and Minipack of Southampton, United Kingdom. Chairman Emeritus Charles P. McCormick Jr. was re-elected chairman in 1994. The company sold Golden West Foods in 1995 and Minipack of Southampton in 1996. Also sold in 1996 were Gilroy Foods and Gilroy Energy, as well as Giza National Dehydration of Cairo, Egypt. McCormick Canada acquired the French’s dry seasoning line in 1997, and McCormick stock began selling on the New York Stock Exchange in 1999.
The company acquired Ducros of France in 2000, later renamed McCormick France. In 2003, McCormick was added to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index; acquired UniqSauces of the UK and Zatarain’s of Louisiana; and sold its packaging businesses, Setco and Tubed Products, as well as its Jenks brokerage business assets. The company acquired C.M. van Sillevoldt B.V. of the Netherlands in 2004 and Epicurean International (renamed Simply Asia Foods) in 2006, with its Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia brands. In 2007, the company started a new advertising campaign to encourage people to dispose of older packages of spices, by pointing out that any of their packages that list their address as “Baltimore, MD 21202” are over 15 years old. In 2008, McCormick acquired Billy Bee Honey Products of Canada, and the Lawry’s brand of seasonings and marinades (the biggest acquisition in company history). To gain FTC approval for the purchase of Lawry’s, McCormick agreed to sell its Season-All business to Morton Salt.
- US Consumer Products: The US Consumer Products Division is McCormick’s oldest and largest business. It manufactures and sells spices, herbs, extracts, proprietary seasoning blends, sauces, and marinades.
- Food Service: McCormick Food Service offers a full line of spices, seasonings and other food products to broadline foodservice distributors and membership warehouse clubs.
- Industrial Flavor Solutions: McCormick Flavors supplies natural and artificial flavors for industrial formulation needs. Products are available in a variety of forms, including liquid, paste, and powder.