Oscar Mayer in Madison will soon be history, and Kraft-Heinz Foods has made that decision.
Financially, this may have been wise even though Oscar Mayer continues to be a very progressive company. It has extensive meat research programs, sound management and the company is profitable. That’s why General Foods, Phillip Morris and Kraft Foods purchased Oscar Mayer. It was good business
Nevertheless, because of my 60-year association with Oscar Mayer, I remain disappointed. In addition to it being a successful business, the company had been very community focused. In addition to charitable support, it had permitted UW-Madison research.
Students learned meat science and technology at the plant. Oscar Mayer employees gave lectures for university classes, and the company offered internships and employment opportunities. Oscar Mayer allowed UW departments to collect tissue samples that led to innovation. An example was the use of pig heart valves to pioneer "bird cage" heart valves for humans. The company’s unpublished discoveries and inventions have been applied throughout the meat industry.
I got to know the late Oscar Mayer III and was very impressed by his congenial, humble and benevolent approach to supporting the university and the city of Madison as the county’s largest employer. The university, city and citizens of Dane County and Wisconsin will miss but never forget the Oscar Mayer company.
Robert G. Kauffman, Madison, emeritus professor, Meat Science and Muscle Biology Laboratory, Department of Animal Sciences, UW-Madison