Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Libby, McNeill, & Libby
Libby, McNeill, & Libby

Libby, McNeill, & Libby

One of the world's leading producers of canned foods, this company was created in 1868 by Archibald McNeill and the brothers Arthur and Charles Libby, who sold beef packed in brine. In 1875, the company began to can its meat in pyramid-shaped metal containers. This product proved popular, and by the 1880s, when it employed 1,500 people, the company was slaughtering as many as 200,000 cattle and selling several millions of dollars' worth of canned meat each year. Like other large Chicago meat companies, Libby slaughtered at the Union Stock Yard. Many of its cans of meat were sold in Europe, where they were consumed by both civilians and soldiers. Between 1888 and 1920, Libby was controlled by Swift & Co., the giant Chicago-based meatpacker. During the first years of the twentieth century, Libby began to can vegetables and fruits. By the middle of the 1930s, it employed some 9,000 people in the Chicago area. Annual sales passed $100 million during the 1940s. During the 1970s, when Libby was purchased by Nestlé of Switzerland, the company had annual sales of close to $500 million and about 1,300 workers in the Chicago area.