Company History

A Tradition of Quality, Innovation and Consumer Trust

As America’s favorite tuna, StarKist® represents a 65-year tradition of quality, innovation and consumer trust and is well known for its charismatic brand icon, Charlie® the Tuna, who swam into the hearts of tuna fans in 1961 and is still a fan favorite today. 

1900

1910

Yugoslav immigrant Martin J. Bogdanovich buys a fishing boat and begins fishing off the California coast

1918

Bogdanovich and five partners, seeking to profit from the U.S. Government’s World War I procurement of tuna for troops, form French Sardine Co. in San Pedro, California

1942

French Sardine Co. adopts StarKist brand name; during World War II, more than half of the company’s output is bought by the U.S. Government

1944

Martin passes away and his son, Joseph, becomes chief executive

1950

1952

The company opens the largest tuna cannery in the world on Terminal Island in California

1953

The company’s name is changed to StarKist Foods Inc.; 9Lives pet food business brand is established making use of tuna by-products

1960

StarKist Foods Inc. opens a plant in Puerto Rico

1961

Charlie the Tuna debuts in StarKist television commercials

1963

StarKist Food Inc. is acquired by H.J. Heinz Company with Joe Bogdanovich remaining as president; StarKist opens a plant in American Samoa

1980

StarKist becomes the top U.S. tuna brand

1985

High labor costs compared to its Puerto Rico and American Samoa canneries leads StarKist to close the Terminal Island, California plant

1988

Heinz Pet Productions is split off from StarKist with William R. Johnson, future Heinz Chairman, as president

1990

StarKist adopts a “Dolphin Safe” policy

1993

StarKist Seafood recombined with pet products, is relocated to Newport, Kentucky

2000

2000

StarKist relocated to Pittsburgh and introduces tuna in a pouch as the latest in packaging innovation

2002

Del Monte acquired StarKist from Heinz

2008

Dongwon Industries acquires StarKist from Del Monte Foods