Goodman Fielder’s origins extend back to 1909 when Geo Fielder & Co. was incorporated in New South Wales, Australia. The State had some good wheat-producing districts and the company milled wheat which was then sold as ‘Fielder’s Flour’ in NSW and Queensland.
In 1951 Geo Fielder & Co became a public company and its operations expanded to include the sale of gluten in both domestically and for export.
Around this time in New Zealand a small bakery was being run by the Goodman family in Motueka, near Nelson in the South Island. The owners’ son, Patrick joined the business and he quickly and successfully expanded the sale of the bakery’s products beyond the business’s physical walls to local grocers in the area.
The bakery’s success led a number of grocers to invest in the business, and the Goodman family bought a number of local bakeries in the Nelson region. In 1968 Patrick led a group of eight other bakers to form the cooperative called ‘Quality Bakers’.
Quality Bakers joined with A.S. Paterson & Co (which in the 1970s was one of the top three milling companies in New Zealand), and the business was named AS Paterson. In 1979 Paterson and Goodman parted ways, with Patrick taking over the company and renaming it Goodman Group.
In Australia, Fielder Gillespie Ltd was formed following a merger with Gillespie Bros Holdings Ltd in 1978, then in 1983 a merger with Davis Consolidated Industries Ltd saw the creation of Fielder Gillespie Davis Ltd. The subsequent merger between the Goodman Group Ltd and Fielder Gillespie Davis Ltd, resulted in the establishment of Goodman Fielder Ltd.
The acquisition of Watties Industries Ltd (NZ) saw the name of the company changed to Goodman Fielder Wattie Ltd in 1987, giving the company a more diversified food products range, including leading positions in New Zealand’s snack, canned, frozen, and convenience food segments.
In 1992 Goodman Fielder Wattie acquired one of the most recognized brands in the Australian and New Zealand markets, Uncle Tobys. 1992 also saw the company sell Watties to the H.J. Heinz Co., and the company’s name changed back to Goodman Fielder.
Family-owned Ernest Adams Ltd, the leading baked goods company in the New Zealand market, with its flagship factory in Palmerston North, was bought by Goodman Fielder in 1999.
A restructure in 2001 saw the creation of five new key operating divisions; Milling Australia, Baking Australia, GF New Zealand, GF Consumer Products, and GF International. In 2003 Goodman Fielder Ltd was acquired by Burns, Philp & Company Limited, and over the next three years Natures Over Limited (NZ Snacks business), La Famiglia Fine Foods Pty Limited, a frozen and chilled bread business (Australia) and Hansells (NZ) Limited’s snacks business in New Zealand all joined Goodman Fielder.
In 2005 there was an Initial Public Offering of shares in Goodman Fielder Limited on ASX and NZX, with Burns, Philp & Company Limited retaining The Uncle Tobys Company and Bluebird Foods businesses. New Zealand Dairy Foods Holdings Limited was also acquired (a dairy and smallgoods business in New Zealand) in 2005.
Goodman Fielder celebrated its centenary year in 2009, and the company moved to new corporate head office and research facilities in both North Ryde (Sydney, NSW) and Auckland (NZ) in 2010.
In 2011 the company embarked on a restructure, with a focus on its core businesses of baking, dairy, flour and cake mix, spreads and dressings and mayonnaise. The subsequent years saw the divestment of its Integro Foods Business in 2012, its biscuits business in 2013, while in New Zealand, the company divested its flour and milling business in 2012, and its Meats and Pizza businesses in 2013.
On 17th March 2015, Goodman Fielder was acquired by two leading food companies in Asia; Wilmar International and First Pacific. The new ownership provides a significant opportunity for Goodman Fielder to invest further in its brands, people and facilities to create the region’s leading consumer food company. Wilmar International acquired First Pacific’s 50% share of Goodman Fielder in 2019.
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