The exact origin of the "Del Monte" name is unknown. Apparently, the name was used in the 1880s by a food distributor to designate a coffee blend prepared for the Hotel Del Monte in California. In 1892, the firm selected Del Monte as the brand name for its new line of canned peaches. In 1917, Del Monte became the first US fruit and vegetable processor to advertise nationally.
In 1979, the company was acquired by RJ Reynolds Industries (later RJR Nabisco). In the late 1980s, RJR Nabisco sold off the fresh fruit portion of Del Monte. The remaining core domestic companytoday's Del Monte Foods, which owns the Del Monte name and trademarkwas sold to a Merrill Lynch investor group in 1989,and subsequently acquired in 1997 by the Texas Pacific Group (TPG). TPG took the company public again in 1999.
Late in 2002, Del Monte acquired the US StarKist seafood, North American petfood and pet snacks, US infant feeding, College Inn broth and US private label soup businesses from the HJ Heinz Company. Merging these businesses into the company more than doubled Del Monte's size. With these businesses came top selling brands such as Kibbles n Bits, 9Lives, Pounce and Pup-Peroni, which enhanced the company's presence on grocery store shelves.
In March 2006, Del Monte announced its agreement to acquire the Meow Mix Co., maker of Meow Mix brand cat food and Alley Cat brand dry cat food for US$705 million. Later that year, Del Monte announced that it had completed its acquisition of certain pet product assets, including the Milk-Bone brand, for approximately US$580 million from Kraft Foods Inc.
Rick Wolford, Del Monte's chairman and CEO, noted at the time that "this transaction, coupled with our acquisition of Meow Mix, creates an improved platform for developing innovative and successful products, significantly improving Del Monte's competitive position in the petfood category."