Birds Eye

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This article is about the company. For other uses, see Birdseye (disambiguation).
Birds Eye Limited
Industry Food processing
Founded 1923
Founder Clarence Birdseye
Headquarters Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
Parent US:Pinnacle Foods

Birds Eye is an American international brand of frozen foods[1] owned by parent company Pinnacle Foods in North America and by private equity group Permira in Europe.

History and production[edit]

The brand and its underlying business is held by different owners in various territories:


The Birds Eye brand is used extensively throughout Ireland and the UK. In other parts of Europe the Iglo brand is used.[2]

Unilever announced in August 2006 that the business was sold to UK-based private equity group Permira.

The company's staple product, the Fish Finger, was developed in 1955 at its factory in Great Yarmouth, by a Mr H A J Scott.[2] One of the company's main UK pea processing sites is in Gipsyville, Hull;[3] the company formerly operated a large pea processing factory in the same area, opened 1967, closed 2007.[4] Birdseye also operated a factory in Grimsby, founded 1929, closed 2005, with the loss of 650 jobs.[5]

United States[edit]

As part of General Foods, it merged with Kraft Foods and Philip Morris USA in what became the Altria Group. Birds Eye was sold to Dean Foods in 1993 and was independently owned by Birds Eye Foods of Rochester, New York until purchased by Pinnacle Foods in 2009.[6]

In March 2010, Pinnacle announced it would be closing the Rochester headquarters and moving operations to New Jersey.[7]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

The Birds Eye brand is owned by Simplot Australia Pty Ltd, 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. Today, Birds Eye is Australia's leading frozen brand.[citation needed] Birds Eye products are produced at the company's processing facilities in Devonport and Ulverstone, Tasmania, and Bathurst, New South Wales, as well as from imported ingredients. Some seafood items are processed overseas and the completed product imported.[citation needed]

Unilever review, sale to Permira[edit]

On 9 February 2006 Unilever announced it was looking to sell the Birds Eye brand, as well as the European version - Iglo (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal). These brands were worth £836M in sales, with profits of £115M a year, and employ 3,500 staff across Europe with 1,800 located in the UK. Unilever will retain the Iglo brand in Italy, where frozen food is still popular.[citation needed]

On 28 August 2006, it was confirmed that Unilever had agreed to the sale of the business, held since the late 1930s, to a private equity house Permira for £1.2bn.[8]

Brands portfolio[edit]

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:[9]


Captain Birdseye (United Kingdom)[edit]

Main article: Captain Birdseye

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.[10] 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.[2]

Other advertising[edit]

Child actress Patsy Kensit appeared in a 1970s advert for frozen peas - using her forefinger in her mouth to produce a popping sound. This would be followed by a jingle including the slogan "Sweet as the moment when the pod went 'pop'".[citation needed]

1980s campaigns 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 workers heading home in a minibus and singing about what they were hoping their partners 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 its chips".[11]

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!".[12] The series was the brainchild of legendary advertising art director Vernon Howe and was worthy of mention in several of his obituaries.,[13][14]

Since 2007, Suggs, the lead singer of English ska band Madness has been the face of all Birds Eye products. The slogan "Good Mood Food" and the Madness song "Our House" is used in all advertisements. From 2010 to 2014, all the Birds Eye foods featured a talking puppet polar bear named Clarence (voiced by Willem Dafoe).[citation needed]

2013 meat adulteration scandal[edit]

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.[15] As a result, Birds Eye withdrew all other products produced by the same supplier in the UK and Ireland.[15]


  1. ^ Ma, T. (2014). Professional Marketing and Advertising Essays and Assignments:. 5. p. 3425. 
  2. ^ a b c "Birds Eye: a timeline and history". The Telegraph. 4 July 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "From pod to pack: The journey of a humble Birds Eye pea",, 16 Aug 2015 
  4. ^ Barkham, Patrick (12 January 2007), "'Buccaneers' blamed for Birds Eye closure", The Guardian 
  5. ^ "600 jobs to go at Birds Eye plant". BBC News. 7 October 2004. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "New Jersey's Pinnacle Foods buys Birds Eye". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "Birds Eye plans to close N.Y. headquarters after acquisition by N.J.-based Pinnacle Foods", March 2010
  8. ^ "Birds Eye brands sold for £1.1bn" BBC news, 28 August 2006
  9. ^ Birds Eye Foods: Brands
  10. ^ "Captain Birdseye actor John Hewer dies". The Telegraph. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Steakhouse Grills Advert at Do you Remember. Retrieved 17 July 2014
  12. ^ "UK television adverts 1955-1985". Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "The Independent - 404". The Independent. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "Vernon Howe". 8 December 2003. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Horsemeat scandal: Birds Eye withdraws UK ready meals". BBC News. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 

External links[edit]