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Flowers Foods: Dividend Growth In A Very Old Industry

|Includes: Flowers Foods, Inc. (FLO), WMT

Founded in 1919 by two brothers in Thomasville, Georgia the predecessor to Flowers Foods (NYSE:FLO) opened to rave reviews. The local newspaper said that the bakery had "the latest and most sanitary machinery" and could produce 30,000 loaves of bread per day. When you're starting a bakery, volume, technology and sanitary standards are certainly a good place to begin.

In 1968 the company went public, then known as Flowers Industries. In 1977 the famous Nature's Own brand of soft bread was introduced.

In 1996 Flowers began acquiring Keebler, only to sell that investment in 2001 to Kellogg (NYSE:K) and become Flowers Foods. Since then the company has continued to grow, making more acquisitions along the way.

Flowers Foods' Business Today

I could describe the company as it sits today, but Flowers Foods does a nice job of detailing that information within its investor fact sheet:

Source: Flowers Foods, Investor Fact Sheet

From its small roots back in 1919, Flowers has become the second-largest producer of packaged bakery foods. It's not the sort of business that has that "wow" factor as many other companies - for the industry the best thing since sliced bread is, well… sliced bread.

Still, nearly 99% of U.S. households buy fresh packaged bread. The demand is enormous - on par with utility service - and Flowers has an important seat at the table. The company now serves more than ­85% of the population in its areas of business.

Here's a look at the business if you were to think in terms of percentages:

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