Golden Valley Microwave Foods Case

Jim Watkins, president and COO of Golden Valley Microwave Foods (GVMF) began operations in 1978 in Edina, Minnesota. Being somewhat of a visionary, Watkins’ main focus was on the fledgling microwave foods industry and the belief that every family would want to “cook entire meals in a few minutes.” However, he lacked the “clout” necessary to produce microwavable dinners, and was unable to find suitable distribution channels because of the competitive nature of the supermarket arena. Watkins turned to vending machines. In 1984 his “shelf stable” popcorn, ACT II, began distribution through vending machines and mass merchandisers. Watkins held two patents (PatentStorm, 2004) in the microwave bag technology. By the end of 1990 GVMF was the “largest manufacturer of microwave popcorn in the United States.”
In 1991 ConAgra acquired GVMF and gained the leading edge in microwavable foods research. ConAgra also acquired Beatrice Inc., and Amour Foods which included such brand labels as Butterball turkey, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Peter Pan peanut butter, and Armour luncheon meats. One strategic element not expressed in the case study was the marketing of Orville Redenbacher and Act II popcorns which could appeal to both the price conscious and gourmet consumer markets, successfully squeezing out Diamond Food’s PopSecret brand popcorn (Britt, 2011).
As a division of ConAgra, GVMF was in a position to carry out their strategic plan. New product possibilities could include arenas in food inputs and ingredients, refrigerated foods, and grocery diversified products. The expanding markets for GVMF included ConAgra Asia Pacific, ConAgra Latin America, and meat and chicken processing in Europe in addition to GVMF’s line of popcorn already marketed in Eastern Europe.
The vision statement for GVMF’s from the case study is to “link technology, quality, convenience and price into a product that the consumers would buy on a regular basis”...