Golden State Foods was founded in 1947 in Southern California, as a small meat company supplying local businesses. When the company teamed up with the young McDonald’s Corporation in the 1950s, Golden State was on its way to becoming a major player in the food processing and distribution industries. On a handshake and a promise, GSF and McDonald’s set out to pursue a dream of the highest standards. Built upon solid values and relationships, the vision was clear: make the best products and provide the best service.  Today, more than 75 years later, Golden State Foods is one of the world’s largest diversified suppliers to the Quick Service Restaurant and retail industries. Yet despite the company’s international expansion and dramatic sales growth, GSF’s high standards have endured decade after decade. From its humble beginnings to its global reach as a leading multi-national corporation, GSF attributes its success to simple, yet demanding principles of quality, service, and treating others with respect.  Please enjoy scrolling through our history timeline below for an overview of the company’s significant moments, notable accomplishments, and enduring legacy of quality service.


Formerly called “Golden State Meat Company,” GSF was founded by Bill Moore, a food industry veteran, to provide hamburger patties and other supplies to restaurants and hotels in the Los Angeles area.


Annual sales for GSF had reached $2 million when Ray Kroc launched McDonald’s restaurants in 1955. Golden State Foods was drawn to its high standards for beef patties and pursued McDonald’s business. Within a few years, the company was making beef patties for McDonald’s in Southern California and later became its primary beef supplier.


GSF continued to produce beef patties and expand its product line to include liquid products. In 1967, with annual sales at $8 million, GSF decided to become an exclusive supplier for McDonald’s. Shortly thereafter, GSF formulated the Big Mac® sauce. The company also opened its first distribution center in San Jose, Calif., and began to export products to McDonald’s in Asia, South America and the Caribbean.


The ‘70s were a period of tremendous growth when sales grew from $31 million to more than $337 million. Golden State Foods built its City of Industry, Calif. food processing facility to enable it to provide local processing of liquid products for McDonald’s. GSF also launched the “one-stop-shopping” concept – now an industry standard – through which the company provided warehousing and distribution for all items used by a McDonald’s restaurant. Bill Moore passed away and long time GSF veteran Jim Williams succeeded him as President and CEO.


Growth continued, with GSF sales climbing from $398 million in 1980 to more than $1 billion in 1989. Golden State Foods began to make ketchup for McDonald’s in 1984 and later began to make the dressings for McDonald’s salads when they were added to the menu. GSF also began a joint venture, North American Produce, to process lettuce and onions.


The ‘90s saw GSF’s sales increase from $1 billion to $1.7 billion. Golden State Foods expanded into the international market; opening a distribution center in in Cairo, Egypt and a produce processing facility in Sydney, Australia. Golden State Foods also expanded its product development group to focus specifically on new product innovation. GSF underwent an ownership change when Wetterau Associates and The Yucaipa Cos. acquired Golden State Foods. The acquisition brought food industry veteran Mark Wetterau to lead it into the new millennium.


Beginning the new millennium, GSF embarked on an effort to reach out to other food service providers, while still providing top-notch service to McDonald’s. The company partnered with other organizations to expand its customer diversity and product offerings and took on an array of new customers in the U.S., Egypt and Australia. GSF formed Quality Custom Distribution Services (QCD) and bought out its partner, the Yucaipa Companies, becoming a 100 percent management-owned and run company. The company also established the GSF Foundation for kids.


By 2010, GSF’s customer list had grown to more than 50 customers on six continents. In Liquid Products alone, the growth in the U.S. enabled GSF to reach close to 30% market share in the country’s Liquid Products Portion Control category. Golden State Foods continued to increase its product and customer offerings, along with expanding the company internationally.

GSF Today

Today, Golden State Foods is one of the largest diversified suppliers to the Quick Service Restaurant industry, headquartered in Irvine, Calif. As Golden State Foods continues to expand its superior products, services, innovation and expertise globally, it consistently maintains the core values upon which it was established: Treat others like you want to be treated; Make the best product; Give the customer fair deal: Maintain the highest standards.


The new decade ushered in tremendous growth for the company. Following the opening of QCD’s new headquarters in Frisco, Texas a few months earlier, the company acquired four distribution centers in the Midwest and Northeast United States, including Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Washington, D.C.; and a satellite depot in St. Louis, Missouri. The 2020 acquisition expanded QCD’s national footprint to more than 25 support locations across the country to service additional stores across 20 states. By the end of that year, QCD’s growth in the Midwest with new DCs added in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Chicago, Illinois (two locations) positioned the company to support more than 8,000 stores for Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, and McDonald’s in virtually every state, as GSF continued to add additional customers in other areas of the business.

In early 2021, GSF acquired majority ownership in St. Louis, Missouri-based Gateway Chemical LLC and rebranded the high-quality chemical distribution company as Q Performance.

Following the passing of GSF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Wetterau, Golden State Foods appointed 24-year GSF associate Brian Dick as its fourth CEO in the company’s history.


By 2010, Golden State Foods had grown to more than 50 customer brands on five continents. In Liquid Products alone, the growth in the U.S. enabled GSF to reach nearly 30% market share in the country’s Liquid Products Portion Control category. During this year, additional QCD centers opened throughout the eastern and western U.S. in City of Industry, California; Portland, Oregon; Suffolk, Virginia; and Miami, Tampa, and Orlando, Florida. And by 2011, the company’s annual sales had reached $5 billion.

During the next few years, Golden State Foods continued to increase its product and customer offerings, along with expanding the company internationally. In 2012, GSF acquired KanPak China, a manufacturer supplying the QSR and retail industries, headquartered in Shanghai. This enabled the company to expand its Liquid Products production capabilities into China and venture into aseptic dairy-based product, such as smoothies, ice cream, coffees, creamers, frozen desserts, and specialty beverages.

In early 2013, the company acquired another Liquid Products facility called Groenz, located in Wellington, New Zealand. Along with servicing the QSR industry in Australia and New Zealand, Groenz brought several retail brands to GSF, including French Maid, In-House Systems, and Kiwi Style. Both acquisitions positioned Golden State Foods to continue to meet the needs of its fast-growing international markets.

That same year, GSF also acquired another distribution center in Lebanon, Illinois, servicing more than 350 McDonald’s restaurants in five states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Missouri. During this time, the company sold its distribution center C in Rochester, New York, and merged its QCD Orlando and Tampa centers for better efficiencies.

Later that year, Golden State acquired Arkansas City, Kansas-based KanPak U.S., the parent company of KanPak China. This joint venture enabled GSF to expand its offerings in the aseptic processing category, while broadening its customer base into Canada and Mexico. KanPak U.S. brought in another select group of food and beverage customers, such as Tim Hortons, Burger King, Kellogg’s, 7-Eleven, Costco, and Chick-fil-A, further positioning GSF for additional growth. And by the end of 2013, the company had achieved $6 billion in annual sales.

In 2014, the company welcomed KanPak Penn Yan, New York, into the GSF family, expanding the product line into Siggy’s high-quality Icelandic yogurt. Golden State Foods partnered with more customers in Liquid Products, including Jack in the Box and Wendy’s, and eventually became one of the largest suppliers of liquids to McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Yum! Brands. Later that year, Golden State Foods acquired ownership of Snap Fresh Foods, a New Zealand-based provider of premium salad greens, vegetable mixes, peeled baby carrots, fresh sprouts, dressings, and condiments. The acquisition included two facilities in New Zealand servicing that region, as well as exporting to China. Additionally, GSF built a new Chicago distribution center to service more than 460 McDonald’s customers in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana market. The DC, which also debuted a chef-run test kitchen, became the first center within GSF and the McDonald’s distribution community to be LEED Gold Certified. The company’s annual sales continued to climb and by the end of the year, they surpassed $7 billion.

As a charter member in 2015, GSF helped form the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which focuses on sustainable advancements by educating all facets of the beef supply chain and communicating the sector’s continuous improvement. The company carries on its active support of the organization’s sustainable meat efforts today.

The following year, QCD purchased Mile Hi Specialty Foods to form QCD Rocky Mountain, LLC, with distribution centers throughout the western United States, including Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; and satellite locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Casper, Wyoming; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Exemplifying its digital innovation, Golden State Foods was among a group of leading companies across the global food supply chain to initiate a major blockchain collaboration (HyperInsights) in 2017 with IBM. GSF was one of the very first companies in the world to demonstrate the exciting innovations of this software module that increases transparency, heightens food safety, and optimizes inventory to further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system.

The following year, to help the McDonald’s System better optimize its supply chain, Golden State Foods sold nine of its dedicated distribution centers in the U.S. and reinvested into other logistics and manufacturing areas of the business. This included the opening of an additional Starbucks DC in Fontana, California, collectively serving over 900 Starbucks locations throughout Southern California.

In early 2019, GSF opened a new 165,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Protein Products plant in Opelika, Alabama, where it consolidated its Georgia meat business to better service McDonald’s and other U.S. retail customers. This consolidation opened up additional, much-needed space for Liquid Products in Georgia. GSF’s newest Liquid Products production location with distribution capabilities also opened that year in Burleson, Texas. By the end of 2019, the 214,000-square-foot facility broadened its production operations to multiple liquid products for its QSR and retail customers.

Meanwhile, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, QCD opened another distribution facility in Salt Lake City, Utah to support customers, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, and Chipotle, throughout the state, as well as parts of Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. Also in 2019, GSF debuted its tenth Innovation Center, located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. These strategically-positioned Innovation Centers around the globe are located in Arkansas City, Kansas; Auckland, New Zealand; Cairo, Egypt; City of Industry, California; Conyers, Georgia; Guangzhou, China; Shanghai, China; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington, New Zealand. They provide the right environment for quality experts, nutritionists, chefs, food scientists, and regulatory specialists to collaborate with GSF customers in developing hundreds of new products each year.


Beginning the new millennium, Chairman and CEO Mark Wetterau and his executive team formally instituted the GSF Creed, which complements the company’s Values, underscoring the principles of fairness and respect of all stakeholders. Aligned by these values, Golden State Foods continued to provide McDonald’s with top-notch service, as it expanded its diversification strategy by partnering with a variety of new foodservice providers in both manufacturing and distribution. As part of that effort, the company launched a new product line, Chef Gold, to formulate and distribute liquid products and cooked beef products. This new Chef Gold brand allowed Golden State to leverage its high-quality food processing expertise and efficiencies of scale in procurement, operations, and transportation to provide cost-effective solutions to its customers worldwide.

Building upon its one-stop-shop philosophy, Golden State Foods joined with the Arthur Wells Group of St. Louis in 2000 to form Central Freight Management (CFM Logistics), to service the food industry. In 2001, GSF opened a distribution center in Tijuana, Mexico, which operated through 2003. That same year, the company also formed Signature Services to expand its customer offerings to include store painting, lot striping, power washing, and landscaping services.

In 2002, GSF created Strategic Sourcing Alliance, which provides purchasing and sourcing solutions for the entire supply chain system. These companies, along with Centralized Leasing Corp., the company’s logistics equipment leasing entity, and Restaurant Liquid Services, a bulk-oil delivery company, are a few examples of GSF’s ongoing innovative business solutions to meet customer and market needs. In late 2002, Golden State Foods formed a joint venture in Malaysia to produce liquid products in the Asia-Pacific region, providing cost-effective innovations for its customer base. That year, the company also launched a new charitable organization for children, the GSF Foundation. This non-profit entity was established to help children and families in need in the areas where GSF associates live and work through personal involvement and financial contributions. A natural extension of its value-based business, the Foundation builds upon the existing charitable involvement of its employee volunteers by partnering with local charities nominated by GSF associates. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised more than $60 million to benefit children and families in need through more than 600 worthy nonprofits and schools around the United States and has grown to 28 associate-led committees across the country.

In 2004, Golden State Foods bought out its partner of six years, the Yucaipa Companies, in order to become a management-owned-and-run company. A unique situation for its size and status, GSF’s management participation in ownership, through awards of stock and options, has grown to more than six times the original management ownership group.

In 2005, Golden State Foods continued to expand its business, while maintaining an outstanding relationship with the company’s oldest and largest customer at the time, McDonald’s. GSF partnered with Starbucks, Nestlé, Steak ‘n Shake and other top brands to further diversify its customer base and product offerings.

Annual sales reached $3 billion in 2006. To meet growing customer demand, Quality Custom Distribution Services (QCD), a custom distributor of food and supplies to the QSR industry, was formed in the Seattle, Washington area to further service Starbucks and new customer, Seattle’s Best Coffee. To support these fast-growing businesses, QCD quickly opened centers in Las Vegas, Nevada and San Antonio, Texas. Meanwhile, the company welcomed Perlman Rocque distribution centers, Lemont, Illinois, and Whitewater, Wisconsin, to the GSF family, to further support McDonald’s in the Midwest. On the liquids side of the business, Golden State optimized two of its McDonald’s facilities on both U.S. coasts and partnered with additional new customers in the U.S. and in the Middle East.

In 2007, GSF celebrated 60 years in business, and sales surpassed $3.6 billion. As the company sought to make its customers’ dreams reality, it expanded the QCD business into Hawaii and optimized its McDonald’s beef business – all while adding additional new customers including Denny’s, Cappuccino, and Euro Deli.

Though 2008 was a challenging year economically for the U.S. and for the company, Golden State Foods still managed to grow the business to another milestone, $4 billion in annual sales. GSF consolidated four distribution centers into two in the Southeast and added two QCD facilities in the Northwest. During this time, Golden State also gained numerous customers in the U.S. and in Egypt. It also leveraged the resources and expertise of Unilever, which eventually opted to exit the QSR category of its business. After purchasing the assets of a Unilever plant in Southern California, GSF was awarded substantial business of an array of new liquid products customers, including Hunt’s (ConAgra), Famous Dave’s, Del Taco and Kraft Foods, and Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut). This new business win took GSF to another level of diversification for the company.

Capping off the decade, 2009 proved to be a great year for the company. GSF continued to grow, and successfully took on even more new customers in the U.S., Egypt, and Australia. Some included: Texas Pete, Bruce’s, Whataburger, Popeyes, Herfy, Saudi Airlines, La Poire, Sky Chefs and Costco Australia. The company also opened a new QCD center in Charlotte, North Carolina, in preparation for service to a new customer, Chick-fil-A.


The ’90s saw GSF’s sales increase from $1 billion to $1.7 billion. In 1992, the company relocated its corporate headquarters from Pasadena to Irvine, California. During this time, the global market became increasingly important to Golden State Foods when it opened an overseas processing plant and distribution center in Cairo, Egypt in 1994. Venturing into baking on an international scale, the Cairo team was proud to serve McDonald’s in the Middle East. During this era, GSF opened two produce processing facilities in Sydney and Perth, Australia, supporting McDonald’s increasing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables on that continent. Golden State also expanded its product development group to focus specifically on new product innovation. Further, the company broadened its baking capacities in the U.S. by merging the Conyers bakery operations in Georgia with Bryan, Texas-based Mid South Baking Company in 1996. Golden State continued to produce bakery goods for McDonald’s through Mid South until GSF’s partnership was sold in 2005.

Meanwhile, in 1997, the company opened a distribution center in Portland, Oregon, to better serve its customers in the Pacific Northwest. For GSF, 1998 was a banner year. The organization underwent an ownership change when Wetterau Associates and The Yucaipa Companies acquired Golden State Foods. The acquisition brought on food industry veteran Mark Wetterau to lead GSF into the new millennium as the organization’s new Chairman and CEO, while Jim Williams continued to serve as a member of the GSF Board of Directors.

Also in 1998, GSF’s partner, North American Produce merged with Salinas, California-based Taylor Fresh Foods Inc., eventually becoming the largest provider of produce to the foodservice industry. In 1999, GSF acquired the Sydney, Australia commissary from Louisville, Kentucky-based Tricon Global Restaurants (now Yum! Brands) and merged it with the existing GSF produce facility there. As part of its new diversification strategy, Golden State Foods began providing produce and liquid products to about half of the conglomerate’s Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC restaurants in Australia, as it brought on new liquid products customers, Arby’s in Egypt and Zaxby’s in the U.S.


Growth continued, with GSF sales climbing from $398 million in 1980 to more than $1 billion in 1989. In the early ’80s, Golden State began to make McDonald’s ketchup, McRib patties and sauce, McNugget sauces, and later, began to make the dressings for their new salad menu. The company began a joint venture with North American Produce (NAP), to expand its produce processing capabilities of lettuce and onions. It opened more distribution centers in Suffolk, Virginia; and Lexington, South Carolina, relocated its DC in City of Industry, California; and moved to new and larger distribution facilities in Waipahu, Hawaii; and Sumner, Washington.


The ’70s were a time of tremendous growth, as sales grew to more than $337 million. In 1971, GSF opened a distribution center in Hawaii and built its City of Industry, California food processing plant to enable local production of meat, liquid, produce, and dairy products as well as distribution for McDonald’s. In addition to producing its cold drink and shake syrups along with various toppings, GSF began refining signature products like McDonald’s Tartar Sauce and the famed Big Mac Sauce into the formulas and processes used today.

In 1973, Golden State Foods also leveraged the “one-stop-shopping” concept in retail and was the first to implement it into the QSR format with McDonald’s. Now an industry standard, this revolutionary approach provided warehousing and distribution for all items used by an individual restaurant. Prior to this efficient improvement, up to 30 different deliveries had to be scheduled weekly by these restaurants from as many as 15 different suppliers. During this time, Golden State Foods made the strategic decision to become an exclusive supplier for McDonald’s.

In 1975, GSF opened another food processing facility in Conyers, Georgia, and the next year opened a distribution center in Greensboro, North Carolina. Both facilities included bakery operations that successfully ran for approximately 20 years. By the end of the ’70s, the company had also added distribution centers in Rochester, New York; Phoenix, Arizona; and Sumner, Washington. GSF also invested in the conversion of its fresh beef patty production to a multi-million-dollar patty-forming and freezing operation.

In 1976, long-time GSF veteran Jim Williams took over as President and CEO. That year, the company formally instituted its Values, ideals closely aligned with McDonald’s standards of quality, service, cleanliness, and value. The following year, Jim Williams took on additional responsibility as Chairman and CEO, ushering in a new era at Golden State Foods. That year, GSF moved its corporate headquarters from City of Industry to Pasadena, California.

In 1978, the GSF family suffered a great personal loss, as its Founder Bill Moore passed away. But his values, character, and entrepreneurial spirit continue to live on throughout the company.


As GSF continued to expand its beef patty production throughout McDonald’s in the ’60s, it also began serving local favorites like Carl’s Jr. and Lucky Boy. The company saw additional growth, as it acquired Golden State Meat Company in 1960, inspiring the organization’s name change. Early that decade, the company began supplying choice meat to high-end restaurants and hotels as well as fresh meat to In-N-Out, as California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand was growing. A few years later, Golden State also provided hamburger patties for another pioneer, Disneyland, and subsequently, Disneyworld, while the world-famous theme park was under construction. In the late 1960s, the company also opened its first distribution center in San Jose, California, and began to export products to McDonald’s in Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. By the end of the decade, the organization officially changed its name to Golden State Foods, as annual sales had risen to more than $20 million.


By the early 1950s, annual sales for Golden State had reached $2 million. The company acquired Cheney Meat Company, and began serving local drive-ins and hamburger stands, as it enthusiastically sought business with the McDonald’s brothers in San Bernardino. After much perseverance, GSF finally earned the QSR pioneer’s meat business for selected restaurants later that decade. After new McDonald’s leader, Ray Kroc began franchising restaurants in 1955, GSF eventually broadened its beef patties production to service McDonald’s locations throughout Southern California and later became its primary beef supplier – all on a handshake and a promise.


Formerly called “Pacific Meat and Provision Company” and “Golden State Meat Company,” GSF was founded by Bill Moore, a food industry entrepreneur, to provide hamburger patties, meat products, and other supplies to independent businesses in the Los Angeles area. On a GI bill and a heart full of dreams, Bill hustled meat off the back of a paneled truck, making little more than a living wage. He took on a partner, Frank Streeter, and eventually hired a few employees. Their budding enterprise served local schools, lunch counters, and on-street purveyors, as the hopeful businessmen prepared for future growth.