A Rich History and Legacy of Superior Quality
The story of the Franklin Baker Company began in 1894, when Mr. Franklin Baker, Sr. (1846-1923), a flour miller from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received a boatload of fresh coconuts as payment from a Cuban merchant for flour he shipped to Cuba.
Mr. Baker, Sr. searched in vain for a buyer for the fresh coconuts and along the way, he learned a lot about the problems and opportunities of operating a coconut business. He became convinced that there was an untapped market for coconut. In 1895, he bought a small coconut business located in Arch Street in Philadelphia that was about to close and with his boatload of bartered goods, he entered the coconut business by developing a method to conveniently shred and produce coconut meat of uniform quality which he later on promoted to local housewives.
From that modest start, Franklin Baker, Sr. grew to become the foremost supplier of high quality coconut products in the United States. By 1897, Franklin Baker, Sr. made so much progress with his new business that he decided to sell his flour business to concentrate on his new venture. His son, Franklin Baker, Jr. (1872-1946) eventually joined the business and established the Franklin Baker Company, Inc. In 1913, the manufacturing facilities were moved to Brooklyn, New York and later on to Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1921, Franklin Baker, Sr and his son visited the Philippines and on August 24, 1922, Franklin Baker, Jr., together with 6 other individuals incorporated the Philippine Food Company with an authorized capital stock of PHP 50,000.00 and set up a desiccated coconut plant in the Philippines (located in Sta. Mesa, Manila). Around 4 years later, the manufacturing facility was transferred to San Pablo City, Laguna and the name of the company was eventually changed to Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines on May 13, 1926.
In 1927, Postum Cereal Company (which later on became known as General Foods Corporation in 1929) acquired both Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines and the Diehl-Anderson Coconut Company (also based in San Pablo, Laguna).
The Diehl-Anderson Coconut Company was a coconut company established in 1923 by two gentlemen; namely Mr. Theobald Diehl, an American national of German descent and delegate representing the Philippines Islands (which was an American colony) to the United States Republican Party National Convention and Major W.H. Anderson. Mr. Theobald Diehl became President of the Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines in 1927.
The purchase of the 2 companies by Postum Cereal Company resulted to the consolidation of manufacturing operations at the San Pablo plant since coconut supply from nearby plantations were abundant.
During the Second World War, the San Pablo plant sustained heavy damage and as such, manufacturing operations were moved back to the United States to ensure business continuity. Fresh coconuts from Puerto Rico and Jamaica were shipped to the Hoboken plant for processing. Eventually, the San Pablo plant was rebuilt in 1947 and in 1963, the coconut processing facility was moved from Hoboken, New Jersey to Dover, Delaware. The Dover plant processed desiccated coconut shipped from the Philippines and manufactured the sweetened, toasted and creamed coconut products for industrial and retail customers.
In 1968, General Foods put up another desiccated coconut plant in Davao del Sur (Mindanao Island) as part of its 2-plant sourcing strategy.
In 1988, Philip Morris Companies (which then owned General Foods Corporation) purchased Kraft Foods and the former folded the desiccated coconut business (known as the Franklin Baker Division) with Kraft. In 1990, the coconut business, known then as “Baker’s Coconut” became part of Kraft Food Ingredients Corporation with headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee USA.
In 2004, Kraft, realized that the industrial coconut products was not totally aligned with its core businesses, decided to sell the Franklin Baker Company of the Philippines. Out of the many companies that submitted their bids, Kraft selected one company… Andorra Ventures Corporation or AVC (now known as Andorra Investments Corporation).
Andorra Investments Corporation (formerly known as Andorra Ventures Corporation)
Andorra Investments Corporation is an investment company that was set up in 2005 and established primarily to manage the annual US$100,000 Robert V. Chandran Venture Capital Award. This Award is a five-year commitment that commenced in 2005 which aims to provide “angel” capital financing up to US$100,000 to deserving business ventures of MBA students from the Asian Institute of Management (Philippines).
In addition to managing the venture capital award, Andorra Investments Corporation serves as the vehicle for Philippine investments for Andorra Services Limited, Hong Kong.