The company was founded as Libby, McNeill & Libby in Chicago, Illinois, by Archibald McNeill and the brothers Arthur and Charles Libby. The business began with a canned meat product, beef in brine, or corned beef. It became well-known when it began to package the meat in a trapezoid-shaped can starting in 1875.

By 1880, it had 1,500 employees in Chicago,and by the turn of the century there were about 2,000 employed, by which time it had expanded to the canning of fruits and vegetables. Libby's came under the control of Swift & Company in the 1920s, but later became independent again. One of the best known executives of Libby's was Charles Scott Bridges who in 1947 was made a director of the company and in 1953 became Libby's president and chief executive officer. Libby's expanded and modernized during his presidency, including extensive production of frozen foods.

By 1960 Libby's had 9,000 employees and annual revenues of $296 million, and ranked 154th in size among U.S. corporations.

Libby, McNeill & Libby was acquired by Nestlé in 1970.

Nestlé introduced Juicy Juice in 1977 and was branded under the Libby's name. In 2006, Juicy Juice became branded under the Nestlé name. In 2014, the Juicy Juice brand and business was sold by Nestlé to Harvest Hill Beverage Company, a portfolio company of Brynwood Partners.

In 1982, Libby's canned vegetable business was acquired by S.S. Pierce Company (now Seneca Foods) and its canned fruits business was acquired by California Canners and Growers (Cal Can).In 1984, Cal Can merged with Tri-Valley Growers. In 2000, Tri-Valley Growers went bankrupt and the bulk of its operations, including the rights to the Libby's canned fruit business, was acquired by Signature Fruit LLC in 2001. In 2006, Seneca Foods acquired Signature Fruit.

Niagara Trading Company (now NTC Marketing, Inc.) acquired a long term license for the Libby's name for canned pineapple and juices in 1983.

In 1998, Libby's canned meat business was sold by Nestlé to International Home Foods. In 2000, International Home Foods was acquired by ConAgra.

In 2006, the Libby's trademark was sold by Nestlé to a Swiss entity which became known as Libby Brand Holding.

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