Oh man, the more I dig into trying to be a responsible consumer, the sneakier multinational corporations appear.
Cashing in on consumer America’s fascination with organic, independent, local, boutique, green and SMALL businesses, corporations are buying them up in droves.
Here is a partial list:
Burt’s Bees Clorox 2002 – $925 million
Tom’s of Maine Colgate/Palmolive
Stoneyfield Farms Danone (Dannon, Evian)
Ben and Jerry’s Unilever 2000 – $326 million
Horizon Organics Dean Foods (largest dairy in U.S.
Odwalla Coca-Cola 2001 – $181 million
Naked Juice Pepsi Co. 2006 – $450 million
Vitamin Water, Smart Water Coca-Cola
R. W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organics Smuckers
Kashi Kelloggs 2000
Back to Nature and Boca Burgers Kraft Foods (part of Phillip Morris group)
Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen General Mills
Green and Black Chocolate Schweppes
Stoned Wheat Thins Nabisco
The Hain Group owns all of the following brands:
Bearitos, Breadshop Granola, Celestial Seasonings, Garden of Eatin’, Health Valley, Imagine Foods, Terra Chips and Westbrae.
The Hain Group stockholders are the following: H.J. Heinz, Phillip-Morris, Monsanto, Citigroup, Wal-Mart, Lockheed Martin, Waste Management, Pfizer, Merck and Bank of America. Reads like the list of corporate villans to me.
My issue is that these corporations are probably some of the biggest reasons why the organic and natural food industry was begun in the latter part of the twentieth century. And certainly the biggest reason why those companies are now growing so quickly. The growth of the organic and natural section of the food industry is “the fastest growing in all of food,” according to former CEO of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott. Wal-Mart has decided to bring a record number or organic companies into their corporate fold the past few years – gives me the chills to think! And these companies are not getting into the business so they can help family farmers transition to organic farms or to aid in the local production of goods and services – they are in it for the money. Organic and natural labels sell – faster and for more money.
And it is obvious the big corporations have a vested interest in us remaining in the dark about their new holdings. Check out the websites and labels for these brands. No mention of corporate owners or partnerships. They are definitely not being transparent.
Voting with my dollars has just become a bit more challenging.