Our History

Our History

When J.R. Simplot acquired some of Australia’s favourite food brands back in 1995, he knew the brands were well-loved and iconic, and would create a strong foothold for Simplot to enter the Australian market.

 

Since those early days, Simplot has continued to back Australian growers and Australian manufacturing and invest in all aspects of the business. Simplot Australia has navigated acquisitions, divestments, organisational changes, new brand portfolios and new categories with composure, professionalism and an unwavering commitment to quality. Today, we have a stable of market-leading brands across our Retail and Foodservice divisions, supported by an excellent supply chain and a reputation we can be proud of.

 

Some of our brands have been loved for generations, with long histories that reach back more than 100 years.

 

 

1882

Thirteen year old Henry Leggo began selling his mother’s freshly bottled tomato sauce to hungry miners on the goldfields.

Henry Leggo
1910

I&J is founded by George Irvin and Charles Johnson - two fisherman who operated trawlers out of Cape Town in the early 1900s.

I&J
1911

John West was a Scottish inventor and businessman who immigrated to Oregon where he pioneered the canning of fish by building his own automated can-filling machine.

John West
1920

Established in 1920, Seakist tuna is a favourite in Australian pantries.

Seakist
1925

Ally is most fondly remembered for its '80s advertising campaign, “Quick as a wink, Ally Pink”.

Ally
1926

With the launch of Edgell Asparagus out of a small cannery in Bathurst in 1926, Gordon Edgell & Sons became the first company to can vegetables in Australia.

Bathurst
1949

In the early 1900s Clarence Birdseye designed a quick freeze machine and became one of the founders of the modern frozen foods industry.

Machine
1951

Inspired by the Chinese spring roll, Frank McEncroe first introduced the Chiko Roll at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Show.

Frank MacEnroe
1965

In the heartland of rich river country at Echuca, Harvest began making hearty Australian meals.

Harvest
1995

Simplot acquired Birds Eye, Edgell, Leggo's, Chiko, Harvest, Herbert Adams, Plumrose, Four'N Twenty, Big Sister, Nanna’s and Wedgewood pastries.

Simplot
1997

Irvin & Johnson Australia Ltd merged with Simplot to create the second largest retail seafood brand in Australia. In 2019 we bought out the remaining 40% from I&J in our joint venture. We now own the I&J brand in Australia and New Zealand.

I&J
2002

With our desire to focus on healthier food options we sold our Australian pudding brand Big Sister.

Big Sister
2003

We sold our bakery businesses including Four'N Twenty, Nanna’s, Wedgewood pastries and Herbert Adams.

Four'N Twenty
2003

We put our healthier food strategy into action by acquiring the Australian arm of the John West, Ally and Seakist brands from Unilever.

John West
2008

We sold the Plumrose canned meats brand to the Zwanenberg Group in 2008.

Plumrose
2008

We acquired the Mr Chips potato brand based in New Zealand. In 2013 we divested Mr Chips as part of our Vision 2020 strategy.

Mr Chips
2009

Acquired Top Cut Foods, an internationally accredited Australian manufacturer of quality meat products. Following a strategic review in 2018, we sold Top Cut Foods in a management buy-out.

Top Cut
2009

Entered into a licensing agreement with Nestlé for the Lean Cuisine and Maggi frozen meals brands. We exited the frozen meals category in 2019, ending our Lean Cuisine licence arrangements with Nestlé.

Lean Cuisine
2009

Acquired Papa Giuseppi’s pizza. In 2011 we sold Papa Giuseppi's pizza to Germany’s Dr Oetker.

Papa Guiseppi
2010

Launched the Quorn brand in Australia and developed a new category - frozen health. We ended our licence arrangements for the Quorn brand in 2016.

Quorn
2013

Launched the new Five Tastes brand focusing on Asian cuisine.

Five Taste
2014

Dish’d, an online food store and then subsequent retail store was opened in 2014, an innovative venture providing premium frozen meals. Dish’d ceased operation in 2017 but the learnings continue to fuel our innovative spirit to this very day.

Dish'd
2016

We bought Chicken Tonight, Raguletto and Five Brothers from Symington’s, strengthening our pasta sauce portfolio. 

Dish'd
2020

In 2020, Simplot celebrates 25 years of operation in Australia. We're so proud of our market-leading brands and all the ways in which we contribute to feeding our world.

Simplot