Going Global, Big Bun Baking and Product Development
The ’90s saw GSF’s sales increase from $1 billion to $1.7 billion. In 1992, the company relocated its corporate headquarters from Pasadena to Irvine, California. During this time, the global market became increasingly important to Golden State Foods when it opened an overseas processing plant and distribution center in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. Venturing into baking on an international scale, the Cairo team was proud to serve McDonald’s in the Middle East. During this era, GSF opened two produce processing facilities in Sydney and Perth, Australia, supporting McDonald’s increasing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables on that continent. Golden State also expanded its product development group to focus specifically on new product innovation. Further, the company broadened its baking capacities in the U.S. by merging the Conyers bakery operations in Georgia with Bryan, Texas-based Mid South Baking Company in 1996. Golden State continued to produce bakery goods for McDonald’s through Mid South until GSF’s partnership was sold in 2005. Meanwhile, in 1997, the company opened a distribution center in Portland, Oregon, to better serve its customers in the Pacific Northwest.
For GSF, 1998 was a banner year. The organization underwent an ownership change when Wetterau Associates and The Yucaipa Companies acquired Golden State Foods. The acquisition brought on food industry veteran Mark Wetterau to lead GSF into the new millennium as the organization’s new Chairman and CEO, while Jim Williams continued to serve as a member of the GSF Board of Directors.
Also in 1998, GSF’s partner, North American Produce merged with Salinas, California-based Taylor Fresh Foods Inc., eventually becoming the largest provider of produce to the foodservice industry. In 1999, GSF acquired the Sydney, Australia commissary from Louisville, Kentucky-based Tricon Global Restaurants (now Yum! Brands) and merged it with the existing GSF produce facility there. As part of its new diversification strategy, Golden State Foods began providing produce and liquid products to about half of the conglomerate’s Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC restaurants in Australia, as it brought on new liquid products customers, Arby’s in Egypt and Zaxby’s in the U.S.