Being a man of a certain age, when it comes to food I grew up in what consider to be an iconic age of American food brands. Included in our refrigerator right now is a bottle of Welch’s White Grape Juice (albeit of somewhat indeterminate age), and a jar of Mott’s Apple Juice, (of equally indeterminate age). Both brands seem to specialize in one thing – Welch’s primarily with grape juice and jelly products (Welch’s headquarters – this is no lie – are in Concord, Massachusetts), Mott’s primarily with apple juice and applesauce products. I personally trust both brands to deliver a consistent and delicious experience. The fact that they are both brands are more than 140 years old (Welch’s is 144 years old, and Mott’s even older at 171 years), surprised and somehow delighted me.
Of course I had to know more and learned that Welch’s Foods since 1952 has been by the National Grape Cooperative Association which is a cooperative of grape growers. The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group under license handles distribution of Welch’s sodas (the fruit candies are licensed to a different group). Mott’s is actually owned and operated as a separate unit of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. It would not be surprising if Mott’s and Welch’s were often found not only in the same stores, but even on the same delivery routes.
So why don’t Welch’s and Mott’s combine operations? Surely there would be some economies – possibly substantial economies, in combining the operations of these two iconic American brands. After all, they appear to almost completely complementary. True, Welch’s does make apple juice, and Mott’s does make an apple white grape juice (huh?) but I highly doubt either company would be giving up that much market share if they gave up producing and shipping their less well-known product.
Welch’s Foods was founded by Thomas Bramwell Welch in Vineland, New Jersey. Welch’s 2012 annual sales were by one estimate near $650 million.
Mott’s was founded in Bouckland, New York by S.R. Mott, and today is headquartered in Plano, Texas the home of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. Mott’s annual sales are somewhere near $900 million reported before it was divested from Cadbury-Schweppes in 2010. In fact Mott’s began as an apple cider and vinegar company and has tried to branch into areas such as vegetable juice in order to challenge V-8 (owned by Campbell Soup) – which come to think of it is another iconic American juice brand only 75 years old.
The overall performance of the packaged juice category itself has been rather flat for years. Yet with a renewed interest in fresh juicing there is opportunity as many people think more about juice more today than they have in years.
I’d love to work on a venerated juice brand like, Welch’s, Mott’s or even V-8. I have lived with and used their products for years and think the opportunities in low-calorie juices – yes even boring old grape juice and apple juice, is extremely ripe!
Does it make sense for the operations of two (or three) iconic American juice brands to consider coming together?