Welch’s Foods, Inc. is a beverage and food processing company based in Massachusetts, U.S. The products of the company include fruit juice, jellies and jams, fruit snacks, and soda. It is currently owned by the National Grape Cooperative Association.
The history of Welch Foods Inc. dates back to the 1849, when Ephraim Wales Bull developed the perfect grape after over 10 years conducting experiments and cross breeding to create the best quality grape, Concord grapes. In 1869, Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch produced incredibly delicious juice using the Concord grapes and supplied it to his church to use as sacramental wine. Later, he started selling this unfermented grape juice which quickly became very popular. Thus, Welch’s Foods Inc. was born.
In 1893, Welch took his grape juice to the Chicago World’s Fair where it gained popularity nationwide. Due to its high demand, Dr. Charles E. Welch, son of Thomas Welch, decided to concentrate on grape juice production. The popularity increased when William Jennings Bryan, then Secretary of State, served Welch’s grape juice instead of wine at a state function.
In 1918, the first ever grape marmalade was introduced, called Grapelade and initially developed for the U.S. Army. The first jelly, Concord Grape Jelly, reached the market in 1923. After 1923, the company decided to add other products to its product line other than grapes. Thus, Welch’s Homogenized Tomato Juice was introduced in 1927.
In 1934, the company started sponsoring the hit radio show The Irene Rich Show. In 1945, it started advertising its products in local and national magazines. Because of this, the products remained popular even during the Second World War. In 1949, the company introduced the concentrated version of the grape juice, Welch’s Frozen Grape Juice Concentrate. It also sponsored the children’s television shows Howdy Doody and The Flintstones cartoon program.
In 1952, Welch’s was purchased by the National Grape Cooperative Association, Inc. More products were introduced including white grape juice and red grape juice. In 1966, the company introduced Welch’s JuiceMakers, a concentrated juice mix that requires no refrigeration.
By 2001, the company started using polypropylene bottles to sell its juice. With the discovery of health benefits of Concord grape juice, sales skyrocketed. Welch’s celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2002.
Company headquarters: Concord, MA, USA
Ownership: Private subsidiary (Owned by National Grape Cooperative Association)
Annual revenue: $500 million to $1 billion
Number of employees: 1,300
Demography: Natural and Organic