- 1899 -
California Fruit Canners Association & Del Monte

Del Monte Shield044.jpg          In 1899, eighteen of California’s pioneer canning companies combined to form the California Fruit Canners Association (CFCA). The merger created a company that represented seventy-five percent of the fruit canning capacity of the entire state.  They formed a stock corporation with $3,500,000 capital on paper, but there was little central coordination of CFCA operations.  Rather than creating a centralized company, the CFCA was more an alliance of former competitors.  The original canners and canneries enjoyed high levels of independence for newly merged companies.  Canneries continued to pack under existing brand names, but they did cooperate via packaging a common brand.  Del Monte emerged as the organization’s premier brand and member canneries contributed to its success by establishing a reputation of strong quality.

 WCP_09-1915 Del Monte Panama Pacific Display.jpg         In 1916, six more canneries joined the CFCA and created a new organization, the California Packing Corporation (Calpak), that combined the resources of most of California’s biggest fruit canners.  Many of the pioneers of the California fruit and vegetable canning industry joined to form Calpak at the turn of the century: San José Fruit Packing Company, Cutting Fruit Packing Company, Oakland Preserving Company, J.K. Armsby Company, Central California Canneries, and Griffin & Skelley, to name a few.  By combining so many canning companies, Calpak had capitol, facilities, and a large store of hard-earned industry knowledge.  Calpak’s premiere brand was Del Monte, which became one of the most well known brands in the world.

CFCA.jpg         Libby, McNeil, Libby (Libby) remained as the only other large packer in the state that could compete directly with Calpak.  Medium and small canneries made up the other 25% of the fruit canning industry.  Many were outraged at the size of the Calpak.  Although the Calpak refused to compare itself to the powerful trusts that were taking over the United States, such as the steel and oil trusts, the smaller canneries in the state disagreed and argued that the corporations were just “’a rose by another name.’”

     Historic San Jose tells a bit more about the history of canning in the city and about Del Monte.


"Combine of the Canners." San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File). 1889/07/18/, 1889.

"Canners' Trust Is Incorporated." San Francisco Chronicle (1869-Current File). 1899/07/01/, 1899, http://ezproxy.lib.uh.edu/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1305470472&Fmt=7&clientId=86&RQT=309&VName=HNP.

"Fruit Canners' Organization." Wall Street Journal (1889-1922). 1899/07/11/, 1899, http://ezproxy.lib.uh.edu/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=108841774&Fmt=7&clientId=86&RQT=309&VName=HNP.

Braznell, William. California's Finest: The History of the Del Monte Corporation and the Del Monte Brand. San    Francisco, Calif.: Del Monte Corp, 1982.