Birds Eye

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Birds Eye Limited
FormerlyBirdseye Seafood, Inc.
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1922; 102 years ago (1922)
FounderClarence Birdseye
FateAcquired by Postum Cereal Company in 1929, other owners then
HeadquartersChicago, Illinois, U.S.
Feltham, Middlesex, England
Mentone, Victoria, Australia
ProductsFrozen food
OwnerConagra Brands (US, 2018–present)
Nomad Foods (Europe)
Simplot (AU)

Birds Eye is an international brand of frozen foods[1] founded in the USA and now owned by Conagra Brands in the United States, by Nomad Foods in Europe, and Simplot in Australia.

The former Birds Eye Company Ltd., originally named "Birdseye Seafood, Inc." had been established in the United States by Clarence Birdseye in 1922 to market frozen fish, being then acquired by the Postum Cereal Company in 1929. The company was then owned by other firms such as Dean Foods and Pinnacle Foods, which was eventually taken over by Conagra Brands in 2018. Since then, Conagra has been managing rights to the Birds Eye brand in the U.S.

History and production

United States

A prepared bowl of Birds Eye Steamfresh Super Sweet Corn in 2023.

In the early 1900s, during his travels through Northern Canada, Clarence Birdseye of Montclair, New Jersey, saw the Inuit use ice, wind, and temperature to instantly freeze freshly-caught fish. His curiosity piqued, and Clarence wondered if this method, called flash freezing, could also be applied to other foods. This 1920s hunting trip to Canada inspired Birdseye's food preserving method.[2]

Birdseye conducted experiments and received patents for the development of greatly improved methods to freeze fish for commercial production. In 1922, he formed "Birdseye Seafood, Inc.", to freeze fish fillets with chilled air at −45 °F (−43 °C). In 1924, he developed an entirely new process for commercially viable quick-freezing: packing fish in cartons, then freezing the contents between two refrigerated surfaces under pressure. Birdseye created the "General Seafood Corporation", to promote this method. In 1929, Birdseye sold his company and patents for $22 million to Goldman Sachs and the Postum Cereal Company, which eventually established a new business, General Foods, and which founded the "Birds Eye Frozen Food Company".[3]

After being acquired by the Philip Morris Companies, General Foods then merged into Kraft Foods Inc. in 1990. Birds Eye was sold to Dean Foods in 1993 and was independently owned by Birds Eye Foods of Rochester, New York until it was purchased by Pinnacle Foods in 2009.[4] In March 2010, Pinnacle announced it would be closing the Rochester headquarters and moving operations to New Jersey.[5] Pinnacle Foods was then acquired by Conagra Brands in June 2018, with Birds Eye becoming part of its brand portfolio.[6]


In June 1938, Frosted Foods was formed to exploit the Birds Eye Frozen Foods brand in the UK.[7][8]

In 1943, Unilever acquired T. J. Lipton, a majority stake in Frosted Foods (owner of the Birds Eye brand in the UK)[9] and Batchelors Peas, one of the largest vegetables canners in the United Kingdom.[9][10]

Birds Eye also operated a factory in Grimsby, mass producing a range of fish and vegetable based frozen foods, moving to Unilever's Ladysmith Road site for the mass production of fish fingers in 1955, this factory closed 2005, with the loss of 650 jobs.[11] The fish finger became the company's staple product, was developed in 1955 at its factory in Lowestoft , by H A J Scott, and test marketed in the south of England before mass production began.[8] One of the company's main UK pea processing sites is in Gipsyville, Hull;[12] the company formerly operated a large pea processing factory in the same area; it opened in 1967 and closed in 2007.[13]

On August 28, 2006, it was confirmed that Unilever had agreed to the sale of the UK brand, held since the late 1930s, to private equity house Permira for £1.2bn.[14]


The Birds Eye brand in Australia and New Zealand is owned by Simplot Australia Pty Ltd,[15] a wholly owned subsidiary of the J.R. Simplot Company. Simplot purchased Birds Eye and many of Australia's leading food brands from Pacific Dunlop's Pacific Brands in the mid-1990s. In 2015, Birds Eye was awarded by Reader's Digest as ‘"Australia’s Most Trusted Frozen Food Brand".[16]

Birds Eye headquarters in Brighton, NY, 2010

Brands portfolio

Birds Eye has acquired many well-established brands, some of which are distributed regionally and not nationally. The following brands are owned and distributed by Birds Eye:[17]


Captain Birdseye (United Kingdom)

In the United Kingdom, Captain Birdseye was an advertising mascot of the brand, from the 1960s to late 1990s. Appearing in numerous television and billboard commercials since 1967, he was played by the actor John Hewer between then and 1998 e.g. in 1986 advert for Birdsye Fish Fingers.[19] After the retirement of the original actor, the brand was relaunched with a younger man with designer stubble (played by Thomas Pescod), but was less popular, and the character was dropped from Birdeye's advertising. A 2014 redesign of the brand's packaging[20] includes artwork resembling the original Captain Bird's Eye.[8]

Other British advertising

Child actress Patsy Kensit appeared in an early 1970s advert for frozen peas. This featured a jingle including the slogan "Sweet as the moment when the pod went 'pop'".[21]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, June Whitfield appeared in a series of television advertisements for Birds Eye products, featuring the concluding voice-over line: "... it can make a dishonest woman of you!".[22] The series was the brainchild of advertising art director Vernon Howe and was mentioned in several of his obituaries.[23][24]

Advertising campaigns of the 1980s included one for Potato waffles that had a jingle including the words Waffley versatile. A popular advertisement for Birds Eye Steakhouse Grills featured a scene of hungry building site workers heading home in a minibus and singing about what they were hoping their wives would serve with their steak burgers. The song to the tune of Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) included the tag line "we hope it's chips".[25]

2013 European meat adulteration scandal

In 2013, DNA tests revealed that horsemeat was present in Birds Eye chili con carne that was sold in Belgium and was produced and supplied by a Belgian group named Frigilunch.[26] As a result, Birds Eye withdrew all other products produced by the same supplier in the UK and Ireland.[26]


  1. ^ Ma, T. (2014). Professional Marketing and Advertising Essays and Assignments. 5. p. 3425.
  2. ^ "The story of Birds Eye begins with our founder, Clarence Birdseye". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  3. ^ Details of Birdseye's remarkable career may be found in American National Biography, Vol. 2, pp. 808-9.
  4. ^ "New Jersey's Pinnacle Foods buys Birds Eye". November 19, 2009. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  5. ^ "Birds Eye plans to close N.Y. headquarters after acquisition by N.J.-based Pinnacle Foods", March 2010
  6. ^ Cold comfort: ConAgra buys Birds Eye maker for $10.9 billion by Paul La Monica on CNN, June 27, 2018
  7. ^ Oddy, Derek J. (2003). From Plain Fare to Fusion Food: British Diet from the 1890s to the 1990s. Boydell Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-0851159348.
  8. ^ a b c "Birds Eye: a timeline and history". The Daily Telegraph. July 4, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Jones, Geoffrey; Miskell, Peter (2007). "Acquisitions and firm growth: Creating Unilever's ice cream and tea business" (PDF). Business History. 49 (1): 8–28. doi:10.1080/00076790601062974. S2CID 40340372. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  10. ^ Jones, Geoffrey; Kraft, Alison (2004). "Corporate venturing: the origins of Unilever's pregnancy test" (PDF). Business History. 46 (1): 100–122. doi:10.1080/00076790412331270139. S2CID 11532001. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 18, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  11. ^ "600 jobs to go at Birds Eye plant". BBC News. October 7, 2004. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  12. ^ "From pod to pack: The journey of a humble Birds Eye pea", Hull Daily Mail, 16 August 2015, archived from the original on 22 August 2015, retrieved 16 August 2015
  13. ^ Barkham, Patrick (January 12, 2007), "'Buccaneers' blamed for Birds Eye closure", The Guardian
  14. ^ "Birds Eye brands sold for £1.1bn" BBC News, August 28, 2006
  15. ^ Our brands on Simplot website (Aug 1, 2021)
  16. ^ "Reader's Digest Awards Australia's Most Trusted Frozen Food Brand". B&T. August 5, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Birds Eye Frozen Vegetables | Birds Eye". Archived from the original on April 12, 2008.
  18. ^ "The Snyder of Berlin Story – Timeline". Snyder of Berlin. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  19. ^ "Captain Birdseye actor John Hewer dies". The Daily Telegraph. March 19, 2008. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  20. ^ "Birds Eye unveils new logo and packaging". Packaging News. August 19, 2014. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  21. ^ "Birds Eye Peas Advert 1973 Patsy Kensit". You Tube. Retrieved February 5, 2023.
  22. ^ "UK television adverts 1955-1985". Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  23. ^ Welch, Nick (December 5, 2003). "Vernon Howe". The Independent. Retrieved October 24, 2017.
  24. ^ "Vernon Howe". December 8, 2003. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  25. ^ Steakhouse Grills Advert at Do you Remember. Retrieved July 17, 2014
  26. ^ a b "Horsemeat scandal: Birds Eye withdraws UK ready meals". BBC News. February 22, 2013. Retrieved February 22, 2013.

External links