Libby, McNeill & Libby

Selling canned foods; in 1868, brothers Arthur and Charles Libby joined Archibald McNeill in a modest $3,000 business venture – producing beef in barrels.

In January 1875, they had broken with several traditional meat packing practices, they began curing beef with ice and employing the refrigerated box, enabled them to ship fresh meats to destination hundreds of miles from their plant.

Charles Libby died in 1895. Arthur died four years later. Neither did McNeil survive into the next century.

Their descendent did not follow them into the business. The company passed into the hands of the largest meat packer in the country, Swift & Company. Somewhere along the line, McNeill’s name was dropped.

The company began marketing canned sauerkraut in 1904 and in 1907 bottled A-1 sauce was introduced from England.

In 1907, McNeill & Libby started its first fruit cannery in Sunnyvale. It quickly became the largest employer with a predominantly female workforce.

In 1912 Libby, McNeill and Libby bought half of the stock of Hawaiian Cannery Co. By the 1930s, more that 12 million cases of pineapple were being produced in Hawaii every year. The lion’s share, Libby accounted for 23 percent.

Libby, McNeill Libby had entered the baby food business in the mid 1930s and offered a complete line of bay food fruits, vegetables, vegetable meat combinations and juices on a national basis for several years.

Libby discontinued its baby food line in 1960 due to the market share slip badly.

Nestle first acquired an interest in Libby in 1960 and over the years had increased its ownership to 61% primarily as a result of providing needed additional capital to Libby. In 1975m Nestle determined to acquire 100% ownership of Libby though a tender offer by Nestlé’s Subsidiary, Universal Food Specialties.
Libby, McNeill & Libby

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