When Robert M. Harris launched his own food company in 1973, he had a personal mission as well as a business plan.
Mr. Harris, who died July 5 at the age of 95 at his home in Englewood, N.J., developed foods marketed on the basis that they could help people lose weight, improve cholesterol counts, avoid trans fats or gain other health benefits.
“All the males in my family died of heart disease,” Mr. Harris told the Record newspaper of New Jersey in 2004. “My father died at 40, and my two brothers also died young.”
His Nutrition Industries Corp. licensed the Weight Watchers brand for a range of cheese, margarine, salad dressings and other items, produced on a contract basis by other companies. After selling those licenses to H.J. Heinz Co. in 1988, he operated GFA Brands Inc., which developed the Smart Balance and Earth Balance food brands. GFA was sold for $490 million in 2007 and since then has gone through several ownership changes. Conagra Brands Inc. acquired the Smart Balance and Earth Balance brands in 2018.
In his early 80s, Mr. Harris became a cereal entrepreneur by developing breakfast cereals and pancake and muffin mixes under the Grain Berry brand, marketed by Silver Palate Kitchens Inc., headed by his son Peter Harris.