Scottsdale-based Dial Corp. said Thursday it has sold its meat division for $183 million, shedding the products that gave birth to the consumer products giant 138 years ago.
Pinnacle Foods Group of Cherry Hill, N.J., which owns Swanson, Van de Kamp’s, Vlasic, Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin and many other popular brands, bought Dial’s Armour Foods business. Armour’s canned meats include star performer Vienna Sausages, one of the best known sausage brands in North America.
Pinnacle will take over Armour’s Iowa manufacturing operation and nearly 500 plant employees, said Dial spokeswoman Natalie Violi. Meat marketing employees based in Scottsdale will move to other Dial positions, she said.
As for the cash from the sale, “Dial will plug it back into our core businesses and look for new acquisitions,” Violi said.
The meat division was profitable, but it did not fit with the company’s consumer product focus, she said. Dial’s core product lines include Dial soaps, Purex laundry detergents and Renuzit air fresheners. Last month Dial agreed to buy popular deodorant brands, including Right Guard, from rival Procter & Gamble.
The sale of the meat division was not a surprise. When Dusseldorf, Germany-based Henkel KGaA bought the Scottsdale soap-maker in March, 2004, Henkel chairman Ulrich Lehner indicated the Armour lines might be sold. Henkel specializes in home and personal care products and adhesives.
But when Philip Danforth Armour struck it rich catering to California Gold Rush prospectors in the late 1860s it was by processing food. Meatpacker Armour started making soap 20 years later and came up with the name Dial in 1948 for the world’s first antibacterial soap. In 1963 Armour Foods started packing its popular Vienna Sausages in pop-top cans.
Dial moved its headquarters from Phoenix to Scottsdale in 1997 after the corporation split into two separate companies — Viad and Dial.
The company, which employs about 3,000 worldwide and 650 in Scottsdale, plans to move again by 2008 when its lease is up so land owners can build another shopping center on the prime property. Dial’s search for new quarters has been narrowed to two or three sites, including Desert Ridge in northeast Phoenix. Violi could not say if any Scottsdale locations are still on the short list.