Founded in 1987 by our Co-Chairmen of the Board, Phil Silver and Greg Horrigan, Silgan has grown to be a leading supplier of rigid packaging for consumer goods products. Our primary lines of business are metal containers, metal, composite and plastic vacuum closures and plastic containers. The Company takes great pride in the fact that its products contain some of the world's best known branded consumer products, including Campbell's Soup, Del Monte Fruits and Vegetables, Listerine and Friskies Pet Food.
Our objective is to increase shareholder value by efficiently deploying capital and management resources to grow our business, reduce operating costs and build sustainable competitive positions, or franchises, and to complete acquisitions that generate attractive cash returns. We believe we will accomplish this goal because of our leading market positions and management expertise in acquiring, financing, integrating and efficiently operating consumer goods packaging businesses.
Since our inception in 1987, we have acquired twenty-seven businesses. As a result of the benefits of these acquisitions and organic growth, we have become a leading manufacturer of metal containers in North America and Europe with net sales of $2.21 billion in 2011, and we are the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America with an overall share of approximately half of the market in 2011. Through acquisitions we are now a leading worldwide manufacturer of metal, composite and plastic vacuum closures for food and beverage products, with net sales of $687.8 million in 2011. We have also grown our market position in the plastic container business since 1987, with net sales increasing almost sevenfold to $609.9 million in 2011.