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Who owns the organic food industry? | Healing Talks

Who owns the organic food industry?


Who owns the organic food industry?

By Nathan Batalion, PhD, Naturopath, Triathlete

Walking into the average health food store or health section of your supermarket, you may be impressed by the variety of brands. Many of these  brands, however, have been bought up by large conglomerates that largely own and control the organic food industry and indirectly, the organic food farms.

Big Food vacuum suctioning up of the organic industry

Appearances can be fooling. The fact is, nowadays, that most of the basic processed food staples, including cereals, chips and yogurts are provided by fewer and fewer companies. In recent decades, Big Junk Food has consolidated ownership of common brands, and most recently major organic brands have been included. The average consumer may be surprised to learn that a favorite organic or health food brand, such as Boca Burgers, is now owned by Mondelez/Kraft. Similarly,  Kashi is now owned by Kellogg, which gives us GMO-laden chips. Seemingly smaller brands have been purchased by the same large corporate enterprises. For example. Peet’s Coffee was bought out by JAB. Coleman Natural was purchased by Perdue. Overall,  as multinational companies are  sucking up the industry, they now are including the organics industry. They new organics sales have been growing at the rate of about 20% a year, so why not cash in.

Mass disappearance of independent organics

The end result, however, has been a decimation of independent ownership. While in 1995 there were 81 major independent organic food processing US companies, ten years later there are only 15. The rest were “vacuumed up or lassoed into the corrals of  Big  Junk Food. That this is occurring in a hidden manner is disturbing. The consolidation parallels what has happened other industries, such as mass media. With the latter, 5-6 major conglomerate control what is fed to our minds or hidden from our minds.

Changes since 2003

Each year the Cornucopia Institute puts out a chart of what Big Junk Food owns in the organic food industry. This information has been provided 2003. We can compare the chart above to the one available over ten years ago. What becomes startlingly apparent is that in little over  decade the number of major organic food acquisitions has almost tripled.

Major changes in just the past year  include White Wave’s buying up Earthbound Farm, the nation’s largest organic produce supplier, Coca-Cola buying a stake in Green Mountain Coffee for over a billion and Bimbo Bakeries buying Canada Bread for almost two billion.

The bottom line is that the majority of major  organic brands are now lock, stock and barrel owned by junk food companies, the same  food companies contribute to ruining our collective health, bringing about epidemics of obesity, diabetes and other ailments. In the process there is a watering down of quality standards or reduced commitment to organic ingredients, as with Odwalla’s acquisition by Coca Cola.

Consumer’s activism

In the light of the above, the consumer can become more vigilant,educated and proactive in buying  local foods, rather than  conglomerate food.

Ask your local health food store to help provide disclosure as of which brands are local and least harming, and to drop brands which violate our interests.

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