For most people outside the processed food industry, Mondelez International (pronounced Mohn-dah-LEEZ) is not a well known name.
Millions of consumers, though, are familiar with its famous brands, like Nabisco, Philadelphia cream cheese, Cadbury chocolates, Oreo, Halls cough drops, Chips Ahoy, Ritz crackers, Trident chewing gum, Tang and Triscuit, among others.
Formerly Kraft Foods Inc., Illinois-based Mondelez was created in 2012 when it spun off its North American grocery operations, setting up a separate company called Kraft Foods Group Inc.
Operating as an independent company since 2012, Mondelez is a global snack food and beverage producer with revenues of more than $34 billion, about 104,000 employees worldwide and operations in more than 80 countries. Its products reach consumers in 165 nations, and the company spends its advertising and marketing budgets on promoting its brands, not its corporate name.
Kraft Foods Group has major brands like Kraft, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, Kool-Aid and Planters nuts. Kraft, however, is smaller than Mondelez, with 2014 revenues of over $18 billion and about 22,000 employees in the United States and Canada. Earlier this year, Heinz and Kraft announced plans to merge.
Most of Kraft’s sales go to markets in the U.S. and Canada, while sales at Mondelez are predominantly international.
Mondelez’ headquarters for Latin America were opened in Miami in 2003, when it was still Kraft Foods Inc.
Coral Gables-based Gustavo Abelenda, who began working for the company in 1984 in Argentina, heads the regional operations as executive vice president of Mondelez International and president of Mondelez Latin America.
Mondelez has about 60 employees at its regional headquarters and around 30,000 throughout Latin America. The Coral Gables office runs general management activities, sales, finance legal, supply chain, research, development and quality functions.
Mondelez declined the Herald’s request for an interview with executives at its Latin America headquarters, but the company did answer questions by email. Information for this article also came from Mondelez’s website, public documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and news reports.
Snacking is the food industry’s fastest-growing segment internationally, the company said in an email, and this trend is evident in Latin America.
Consumers in Latin American have a big appetite for Mondelez products. The region last year generated net revenues of more than $5 billion, or 15 percent of the company’s global revenues.
To meet the regional demand for its products, Mondelez has 21 manufacturing facilities and four distribution centers in Latin America, and these plants make most of the products sold there.
Mondelez produces five categories of food: chocolate, chewing gum and candy, biscuits (including cookies, crackers and salted snacks), powdered beverages and cheese and grocery.
In Latin America, it competes against other big processed food companies, like Frito-Lay and Hershey, as well as brands made by major food producers in the region.
Mondelez has eight “power brands” in Latin America, the company said: Oreo, Halls, Trident, Lacta chocolates, Milka chocolates, Club Social crackers, BelVita breakfast biscuits and Tang.
Mondelez sells a wide range of brands familiar to consumers in North America and Europe, but also produces many popular national and regional brands in Latin America.
In Brazil, for example, the company’s largest Latin American market, its most popular sellers are Lacta, Trident, Chiclets, Sonho de Valsa, Tang, Bis, Halls, Club Social, Laka and Trakinas.
In Mexico, Trident, Tang, Philadelphia, Halls, Bubbaloo and Oreo are leading products.
Popular brands in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are Oreo, Cadbury, Mantecol, Club Social, Chiclets, Clorets, Pepitos! Bubbaloo, Tang, Milka, Beldent, Terrabusi Variedad and Cerealitas.
Since it was established in 2012 at the time of the Kraft spinoff, Mondelez calls itself “a new company with more than 100 years of tradition.”
In fact, some Mondelez brands can trace their roots back for more than a century. Nabisco, for example, reportedly got its start in 1792 with the establishment of the first commercial bakery in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Lacta chocolates have been a popular product in Brazil for more than 100 years, as have Terrabusi cookies in Argentina.
When Mondelez announced its name in 2012, there was — and still is — some confusion on how to pronounce it. On seeing the name for the first time, some people might pronounce it “Mohn-dah-lays.”
But in a 2012 news release, the company said that its name should be pronounced “Mohn-dah-LEEZ.” (The name properly uses a macron over the final “e” but that character can’t be properly printed here.)
The neologism is meant to evoke “the idea of ‘delicious world,’” the company said. “‘Monde’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘world’ and ‘delez’ is a fanciful expression of ‘delicious,’” the release said.
Prior to the spinoff, Kraft asked its employees to send in suggestions for the new corporate moniker. More than 1,000 employees took part, and offered over 1,700 suggestions, Mondelez said. The name finally chosen was “inspired by separate suggestions from two employees, one in Europe and the other in North America.”
After the 2012 announcement, some in the media poked fun at the new corporate name and the selection process. One report said that a Kraft employee had suggested “Tfark,” which is “Kraft” spelled backward.
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Mondelez International Inc.
Business: Mondelez International Inc. is a global snack food and beverage giant whose products reach consumers in 165 countries. With 171 manufacturing and processing facilities in 58 countries, the company makes five categories of foods: biscuits (including cookies, crackers and salted snacks), chocolate, gum and candy, beverages (including coffee and powdered beverages) and cheese and grocery. A sample of its well known brands includes Nabisco, Oreo, Cadbury chocolates, Ritz, Chips Ahoy, Trident chewing gum and Tang powdered drink mix. Mondelez, formerly Kraft Foods Inc., was created in 2012 when it spun-off its North American grocery business as Kraft Foods Group Inc. Mondelez owns global snack and food brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc. Most Mondelez sales are international, and the bulk of sales at Kraft Foods Group — which also owns powerful brands — go to the United States and Canada. Mondelez’s Latin America regional headquarters were opened in Miami in 2003. H. J. Heinz Co. and Kraft earlier this year announced plans to merge.
Founded: 2012, but some of its brands are more than 100 years old. Kraft got its start at the beginning of the 20th century.
Corporate headquarters: Deerfield, Illinois.
Latin America regional headquarters: 396 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables.
Corporate CEO: Irene Rosenfeld
Regional leadership: Gustavo Abelenda, Mondelez executive vice president and president for Latin America.
Employees: approximately 104,000 worldwide at the end of 2014, 30,000 in Latin America and about 60 in Miami.
Financial results: 2014 net revenues were $34.2 billion; net profit of nearly $2.2 billion. Latin America accounted for more than $5 billion in last year’s net revenues.
Ownership: Publicly traded on NASDAQ (Symbol: MDLZ)
Sources: Mondelez, its website, documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and news reports.