ConAgra moved its Redenbacher, Swiss Miss, Slim Jim and other snack brands to Naperville, Ill.



In an attempt to jumpstart popular brands that have been a bit lackluster in the snack lineup, ConAgra Foods Inc., Omaha, Neb., moved management responsibilities for Orville Redenbacher, Slim Jim, Swiss Miss and Crunch N' Munch brands to Naperville, Ill. The new Chicago-area headquarters also will encompass vice presidents and general managers as well as associate brand managers.

There are 150 jobs associated with the snack brand team, says David Palfenier, snacks president. The Naperville office now totals 500 employees--still small compared with 3,300 in Omaha.

“Chicago offers an outstanding work force,” Palfenier says, adding that ConAgra does a lot of recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “It's an incredibly diverse work force, and you know that’s got to be at the forefront of any company's agenda.”

Slim Jim sales are down 4% to $224 million compared with last year, while a smaller competitor, Old Wisconsin’s dried meat snacks, posted sales up 13% to $35 million. On the other hand, Slim Jim Jerky snacks are up 25% to $25 million, with room for growth.

ConArga also sees a key opportunities for its Orville Redenbacher brand, and is revitalizing the popcorn brand as a healthy, whole-grain snack that it will support with major marketing efforts for the fall, including partnerships with Redbox and M&Ms.