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History and Heritage

Early Years in Europe Planting Seeds of Growth


Simon Fribourg founds a small grain-trading firm in Arlon, France (now Belgium).


When Belgium is struck by famine, Simon Fribourg’s son, Michel, makes the perilous trip to Bessarabia (now Romania) carrying sacks of gold to buy grain to be shipped back home.


With trade expanding in Europe, Arthur Fribourg establishes operations in Antwerp. Partnering with his father and brother, he also builds flour mills in Belgium and Luxembourg.


As normalcy returns after the First World War, brothers Jules and René Fribourg start Compagnie Continentale d’Importation (CCI) in Antwerp and later Paris. CCI will grow into a trading firm spanning Europe and Asia.

Opportunity Emerges in the U.S.


With the Midwestern U.S. emerging as a global grain powerhouse, Jules opens Continental Grain Company, with a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade and an office in New York City.


Continental Grain expands its capacity to export grain from the U.S. to global markets, building a network of grain elevators and terminals.


As the Nazi advance threatens Europe, the Fribourg family emigrates to the U.S. Their circuitous route takes them from Lisbon to Santo Domingo aboard a Continental Grain freighter, before reaching New York.


Now led by Michel Fribourg and headquartered in New York City, Continental Grain is emerging as one of the largest private grain companies, whose processing, storage and transport network extends from farmers to consumers around the world.

Reaching New Markets Diversifying Businesses


When the Soviet Union’s wheat harvest failed, Continental Grain became the first U.S. firm to export grain to the U.S.S.R, providing 1 million metric tons of wheat to alleviate the crisis.


Setting the stage for its expansion into the poultry industry, Continental Grain acquires a majority stake in Allied Mills, a producer of livestock feed and fresh poultry.


Continental Grain purchases Compañía Algodonera Paraguay S.A. (CAPSA), known today as ContiParaguay. It is our longest held operation in Latin America.


The first foreign-owned feed mill in China is opened by Continental Grain in a joint venture with Charoen Pokphand, paving the way for further expansion into China.

Business License Number 0001 for overseas investment in China, granted in 1981.


Continental Grain establishes an independent Board of Directors, including Ron Daniel, Morton Sosland, Arthur Liman, Henry Kissinger, James Wolfensohn, and Olivier Wormser as founding members.


After serving in a variety of roles at the company since 1976, Paul Fribourg is named Chairman and CEO, becoming the 6th generation of the Fribourg family to lead Continental Grain.


Continental Grain merges its hog farming operations into Premium Standard Farms. After a series of mergers, the business will become part of the leading integrated pork company in the U.S., Smithfield Foods.

Sharpening the Strategic Focus


Launching a new era, the worldwide commodity marketing business is sold, and Continental Grain is reorganized as a holding company so each business can function more independently.


Wayne Farms LLC, which includes Continental Grain’s poultry business, is established as a standalone entity and will become one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S.


Continental Grain and Smithfield Foods combine their cattle feeding businesses to create Five Rivers Ranch, which is eventually sold to JBS S.A.

Investing in Innovation


Arlon Group is formed to invest the company’s permanent capital, as well as third-party capital, in private equity transactions.


Arlon Food and Agriculture Partners is formed in partnership with Rabobank, the world’s leading food and agriculture commercial bank.


Continental Grain partners with 3G Capital, a major Brazilian investment group, in the acquisition of Burger King.


Continental Grain participates in 3G’s acquisition of Heinz.

The company expands its Latin American private equity strategy through Arlon, as well as a China-focused strategy through Continental Capital Ltd.

Conti Today

Conti continues to focus on building businesses that can deliver innovation, high performance, and long-term value creation in the food and agriculture sectors. Conti expands its food and agribusiness investment platform - investing from early stage through middle market and public companies. We bring people, ideas and resources together to build the businesses that will feed the world