Changes since June 2009 include (1) Coca-Cola fully acquiring Honest Tea in March, 2011; (2) Nestle’s acquisitions of Cadbury (and Green & Black’s) in January, 2010, and Sweet Leaf Tea in May, 2011; (3) Sara Lee’s acquisition of Aidell’s Sausage for $87 million in May, 2011; and (4) General Mills’ acquisition of Food Should Taste Good in February, 2012.

 International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 16(1), 13-30

Consolidation in the North American Organic Food Processing Sector, 1997 to 2007.pdf

It may be shocking to you, but a large number of organic food companies are actually owned by mega corporations such as Pepsi and Kraft.

These companies carelessly implant genetically modified ingredients into their food products and are environmentally destructive, but their organic food subsidiary companies are often toted as environmentally safe and health conscious. One such example is the Honest Tea company, which is actually owned by the Coca-Cola company.

Perhaps it’s time to see if your favorite organic food company is actually owned by one of these mega companies.

Most acquisitions of organic processors occurred between December, 1997 when the draft USDA standard was released, and its full implementation in October, 2002. Few companies identify these ownership ties on product labels. 

Cargill’s strategic alliances with French Meadow and Hain Celestial are to develop products with nutritionally enhanced organic ingredients such as phytosterols, soy isoflavones, trehalose, inulin, and chondroitin.

Heinz acquired a 19.5% stake in Hain Celestial in 1999 while also transferring ownership of their Earth’s Best brand, but sold all of its Hain Celestial stock in 2005.

PDF version of Organic Industry Structure: Top 30 Acquisitions

Most introductions of organic versions of well-known brands occurred after the USDA standard was implemented in October, 2002. Some, such as Dove Organic, have been developed specifically for Wal-Mart.

PDF version of Organic Industry Structure_Top 30 Introductions

Venture capitalists currently describe organic processing as “fragmented.” They are acquiring brands within the same sector (bread, meat, etc.) with plans to sell them for significant gain at a later date. 

PDF version of Organic Industry Structure: Significant Acquisitions and Introductions
independentsMost remaining independent organic processors have resisted substantial buyout offers (typically 2 times annual sales).  

PDF version of Organic Industry Structure_Major Independents and Their Subsidiary Brands

Network Animation of Data from the 4 Charts Above
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Produced in collaboration with Skye Bender-deMoll, an author of SoNIA – Social Network Image Animator.

An increasing number of supermarkets, wholesale clubs and distributors are introducing organic private label products, in addition to chains that specialize in organic and natural foods.  

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