Who Owns Your Favorite Natural Food Brands? July 01 2016

Where's Your Money Going When You Buy Natural and Organic?

If you haven't already seen this chart, it will change your understanding of the food industry profoundly. It is far more concentrated than many of us realize.

This chart (click here for a larger pdf) is updated as of January 2016 and details the relationships and history of acquisitions by larger companies over more than a decade. I (Susanna) first saw this chart as part of a Pomona College food policy class over a decade ago!

A chart showing which companies own natural food brands.
Boulder's recently made it on the charts. Boulder Brands was purchased by Pinnacle Foods (#45 in food and beverage sales in North America in 2015) late last year.  Boulder Brands is a group that includes Earth Balance, Udi's, Glutino, and Evol Burritos.

AND, not even in the charts yet, just last month Hormel bought Justin's (nut butters) for $286 M. (Hormel as in Skippy and Spam). Justin's started at the Boulder Farmers Market!

I love the chart because it gives us a much better idea of where our dollars are going in a not-so-transparent global food system.  It also brings up really interesting questions about if/how smaller companies can maintain their identities as well as realize greater potential for positive impact as a result of joining much larger corporations.  

A question I ask myself (Susanna) often is "how do we scale our company to give more people access, increase monetary and spiritual abundance for all involved, and still maintain the quality, values and character that define us?"

I'm keeping an eye on these companies for clues. Justin's will be especially interesting.  Growth can be negative or positive, it all depends on how it's done.