The company’s history began when Yugoslav immigrant Martin Bogdanovich began fishing on the California coast in 1910. In 1918, Bogdanovich and five of his partners started their tuna business and named it the French Sardine Company.
In 1942, French Sardine Company adopted the brand name Starkist. By World War II, the company was already supplying the U.S. army with more than half of its tuna output. In 1952, the company completed its biggest tuna cannery on Terminal Island, California. A year after, the company changed its name to its own brand, Starkist. It was also in the same year that 9Lives cat food was established. The 9Lives brand was Starkist’s pet food based on tuna by-products.
In 1960, the company started its international expansion by opening a manufacturing facility in Puerto Rico. A year after, Starkist’s ‘Charlie the Tuna’ was introduced in television commercials.
In 1963, Starkist was purchased by the H.J. Heinz Company and afterwards, opened a manufacturing facility in the area of American Samoa. Despite being acquired by a new owner, Joe Bogdanovich still remained president. By 1980, Starkist was already considered the leading brand of tuna in the United States. In 1985 however, Starkist was forced to close its plant in Terminal Island, California because labor costs were getting high when compared with the company’s two other plants abroad.
In 1990, Starkist adopted the “Dolphin Safe” guiding principle. Ten years later, the company introduced a new additional packaging for its tuna products, the tuna pouch. In the same year, the company moved its headquarters to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2002, Del Monte bought Starkist from the H.J. Heinz Company. Four years after, Starkist again changed ownership when it was acquired by Dongwon Industries.
Currently, Starkist continues to enjoy its position as a national leader when it comes to tuna products. Aside from its canned tuna products, the company also offers ready-to-use, low-sodium marinated tuna varieties. Starkist’s customer base consists primarily of foodservice operators and consumers of commercial canned fish products.
Headquarters: Pennsylvania, USA
Ownership Type: Private
No. of Employees: Not available
Demography: canned tuna lovers, foodservice companies