Too many cooks might spoil Bridgford Foods' business. The company manufactures, markets, and distributes a slew of frozen, refrigerated, and snack foods. Its lineup ranges from biscuits and bread dough to deli meats, dry sausage, and beef jerky. (It's one of the nation's largest sellers of jerky and other meat snacks). Bridgford adds to its offerings by buying for resale some snack and refrigerated foods made by other processors. The company sells to foodservice (restaurants and institutions) and retailers (supermarkets, mass merchandise, and convenience stores) in the US and Canada largely through distributors, brokers, and a direct store delivery network. Wal-Mart generates more than 10% of Bridgford's sales.
Bridgford's focus on convenience foods is unwavering; it has not pursued acquisitions, nor significantly diversified its product portfolio during the last five years. It managed to stay profitable in 2010 despite higher prices for grains, meats, and petroleum, and a slip in year-over-year sales, which remain relatively flat.
The company has, however, made a strategic shift in operations. The record cost of key commodities and a decision to make a significant adjustment to its provision for taxes drove deepening losses. Price increases and the elimination of under-performing products and operations failed to counter the financial toll. Its hard choices were rewarded in 2009 and, along with lower commodity costs, helped the company rebound and mark its fourth earnings high.
Among its choices, Bridgford has increased its push of products made by the company coupled with supplementing its own direct store delivery network and distributor partnerships. In 2010 it inked a deal with Golden Flake Snack Foods (owned by Golden Enterprises) to sell Bridgford's dry sausage and meat snacks. Bridgford has also continued to tweak its offerings. During the year, it developed a single-serve version of its popular monkey bread, launched a handful of new beef jerky items, and refined its self-stable sandwich and bakery products with an investment in new packaging technology. The company's frozen food business also added several new varieties of bread dough. Such moves enable the company to sell through a greater variety of retail and on-line outlets.
Bridgford's focus is heavily influenced by the founding Bridgford family. The family owns more than 80% of the company. Moreover, three members are actively involved in its management and serve on the board of directors. – less