Hero under the Oetker stewardship 1973-1999

  • 1973-1979

    Beech-Nut changes hands


    Beech-Nut changes hands

    In 1973, Pharmaceutical giant ER Squibb & Sons sold the Beech-Nut baby food line to Frank Nicholas. During the mid-1970s, Beech-Nut announced that it would discontinue adding salt and eliminating sugar from all non-dessert products. Despite a sales increase, the lack of capital forced Nicholas to sell the company to Swiss company Nestlé.

    Schwartau began its cooperation with McDonalds in 1978 to supply ice-cream toppings. The cooperation is still running today.

  • 1980-1985

    Vitrac created, and Hero Baby is born


    Vitrac created, and Hero Baby is born

    A group of Egyptian businessmen partner with renowned French company Vitrac Fruits to form the Vitrac jam brand in 1981. Vitrac will soon become synonymous with quality jam and concentrates in the country and region.

    In 1983, Hero Spain closed its facility in Talayuela (Caceres) and centralized production in Alcantarilla with considerable investment in a modernized plant. A year later, Beech-Nut launched a new line of baby foods called Stages and in 1985, Hero Spain took the bold decision to enter the baby market with a new product called Hero Baby. It proved to be a very successful move and today accounts for more than half the company turnover.

  • 1986-1989

    Hero marks its centenary


    Hero marks its centenary

    In 1986, Hero organized a number of events to mark the 100 years since its founding. On the business side, the company purchased the conserve factory De Betuwe in Holland, among others.

    That same year, Kiviks Marknad (later Hero Brazil) is born. The first products hit the market in 1988 under the brand name Queensberry, a premium jam based on European recipes.

    In 1989, Ralston Purina purchased Beech-Nut from Nestlé and in 1991 became the first baby food company to launch an organic line of products. The Juvela portfolio of flour mixes and biscuits was acquired by Semper in the late 1980s.

  • 1990-1994

    Beech-Nut turns 100, Organix is born


    Beech-Nut turns 100, Organix is born

    In 1990, Hero continued with more acquisitions, including a majority holding of Lindavia Fruchtsaft AG in Germany and take over Les Verges d’Alsace in France. In this period, Semper expanded into the health sector and in 1991, they licensed the Juvela brand to SHS International, a clinical nutrition company.

    In May 1991, Beech-Nut celebrated its 100th Birthday. Further south, businessman Eduardo Moraes, who had just sold the sweetener industry Adocyl, acquired the entire Kiviks Marknad business (June 1991).

    Back in England, Lizzie Vann establishes Organix in her kitchen in 1991. An activist, political campaigner, and businesswoman, Vann wanted to create a baby food brand with pure, natural ingredients. Organix was born on May 19, 1992, and she made her first sale at the Ringwood farmers’ market later that same year.

  • 1995

    Hero under the Oetker stewardship


    Hero under the Oetker stewardship

    In 1995, the German company Schwartau International GmbH, owned by Dr Arend Oetker, acquired a majority stake in Hero. This will lead to the formation of the Hero Group, which includes the company Schwartauer Werke. The family still own a majority shareholding to date and are represented on the Board of Directors by Dr Oetker himself and his eldest son, Leopold Oetker.

    Dr Oetker acquired the first shares of Hero in 1994. The two companies had been in contact with each other since the mid-1970s.

  • 1996-1999

    The millennium comes to an end


    The millennium comes to an end

    Hero entered the North American market in 1996 through a joint venture with McCormick to form Signature Brands LLC with the aim to manufacture food decoration products. Hero sells off its British Rayner subsidiary, and non-Hero branded fruit juices companies, including Klindworth and Lindavia.

    Together with Arla, the Frazer catering business is acquired in 1997, and Arla and Semper merge to become Semper Foods. In August 1998, Ralcorp Holdings sells its branded baby food subsidiary Beech-Nut to The Milnot Company.

    Schwartau celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999, the same year Hero Portugal was created. Apart from Hero Baby, the company marketed Hero jam and Hero Musely cereal bars (now Corny).