Just Add Good Stuff recently published an article about how organic brands are being acquired by large conglomerate companies. The original chart was published in 2002 and updated in June 2009 by Phil Howard, a respected professor of Agriculture at Michigan State University. Since then, the Organic Food Industry Chart 2013 has been published. And here are the scary findings.
As noted previously, many of today’s ‘organic brands’ are not independent. On the contrary, our organic industry has been completely transformed through the acquisition of organic companies by larger conglomerates. This is happening at a frightening pace and it’s surely not going to stop any time soon. Here are the latest acquisitions of organic brands by conglomerates worldwide as outlined in the May 2013 Organic Food Industry Chart by Phil Howard.
PEPSI purchased Naked Juice in November 2006.
COCA-COLA purchased Odwalla in 2001 for $181 million and Honest Tea for $43 million (40% equity) in February 2008 and then full 100% equity in March 2011.
NESTLE purchased Sweet Leaf Tea in May 2011 and Tribe Mediterranean Foods for $57 million in September 2008 through the Israeli subsidiary Osern Group in which Nestle has 50.1% equity stake.
DEAN FOODS purchased Horizon Foods in July 1998 with 13% equity stake and 100% equity for $216 million in January 2004. In April 1999, Horizon bought out The Organic Cow of Vermont (now under Dean Foods). Also, Dean purchased Alta Dena in May 1999 and White Wave/Silk in May 2002 for $189 million in May 2013.
MONDELEZ (formerly a division of KRAFT) bought out Green & Black’s in January 2010 and Boca Foods in February 2000. They also own 100% equity in Back to Nature in September 2003 but in August 2012 they sold a majority stake to Brynwood Partners.
PERDUE FARMS bought Coleman Natural (May 2011) which owns Petaluma/Rosie (January 2002), Hans (August 2003), Draper Valley Farms (August 2007).
DIAMOND FOODS bought Kettle in February 2010 for $615 million.
MILLER-COORS bought out Crispin in February 2012 which owns Fox Barrel (January 2010).
HILLSHIRE BRANDS (formerly Sara Lee) bought Aidell’s Sausage for $87 million in May 2011.
JAB/D.E. MASTER BLENDERS (formerly Sara Lee) bought Peet’s Coffee & Tea for $1 billion in August 2012 and Tea Forte in January 2012.
HERSHEY FOODS owns Dagoba as of October 2006.
SNYDER’S-LANCE owns Late July in a minority stake purchase in December 2007.
CAMPBELL SOUP CO. owns Wolfgang Puck (July 2008) and bought Bolthouse Farms for $1.55 billion in July 2012.
M&M MARS bought Seeds of Change in 1997.
CONAGRA bought Lightlife in July 2000 and RALCORP (private label organic foods) for $6.8 billion in November 2012. Ralcorp also bought Lovin Oven and Bloomfield Bakers for $140 million in March 2007.
GENERAL MILLS bought LaraBar in June 2008, Food Should Taste Good in February 2012, Cascadian Farm in December 1999 which owned Muir Glen back in March 1998.
TREEHOUSE FOODS bought Naturally Fresh for $25 million in March 2012 and Sturm Foods for $660 million in December 2009.
POST FOODS (spinoff from Ralcorp in 2012) owns New Morning and Erewhon as of January 2013 and bought Hearthside Foods (cereal division) in May 2013 for $158 million. Hearthside bought Willamette Valley Granola in May 2010 and Peace Cereal and Golden Temple in September 2011.
FOSTER FARMS bought Humboldt Creamery in August 2009 for $19.5 million.
JOHN B. SANFILIPPE & SEN bought Orchard Valley Harvest in May 2010 for $29.5 million.
DANONE (Dannon) bought 92% equity stake in Happy Family in May 2013 plus Stoneyfield in October 2001 (40% equity) and January 2004 (85% majority equity). Stonyfield also owns Brown Cow (February 2003). In November 2009, Stonyfield brand licensed to CROPP (Organic Valley) for fluid milk.
J&J SNACK FOODS bought Kim & Scott’s for $7.9 million in June 2012.
J.M. SMUCKER bought Millstone in November 2008, Santa Cruz Organic in 1989 and R.W. Knudsen in 1984.
KELLOGG bought Bear Naked and Wholesome & Hearty for $122 million back in November 2007. They also bought Kashi in June 2000 and Morningstar Farms/Natural Touch in November 1999 for $307 million.
AB INBEV bought Goose Island for $38.8 million in March 2011.
MAPLE LEAF FOODS owns CANADA BREAD CO. (90% equity stake) which owns Olafson’s Baking Co (July 2002).
CARGILL formed an alliance with French Meadow to develop nutritionally enhanced ingredients in May 2002. French Meadow is controlled by RICH PRODUCTS CORP (July 2006). In addition, Cargill formed a joint marketing agreement with Meyer Natural Foods in June 2010. Meyer owns Dakota Beef (December 2010).
HAIN CELESTIAL and CARGILL formed an alliance to develop nutritionally enhanced ingredients in August 2003. Hain Celestial owns the following organic brands: Imagine/Rice Dream/Soy Dream (December 2002), Celestial Seasonings (March 2000 for $390 million), Westbrae/Westsoy/Little Bear/Bearitos (October 1997 for $23.5 million), TofuTown (June 2007), SunSpire/MaraNatha (March 2008), Walnut Acres (June 2003) which also owns Mountain Sun/ShariAnn’s/Millina’s Finest/Frutti di Bosco, BluePrint (November 2012), Ella’s Kitchen (May 2013), Earth’s Best (September 1999), Nile Spice (December 1998), Spectrum Organics (August 2005 for $33 million), DeBoles/Garden of Eatin’/Arrowhead Mills (April 1998 for $80 million) and Breadshop/Health Valley/Casbah (April 1999 for $80 million).
As you can see from this chart, many of today’s organic brands are now owned and operated by some of the world’s largest food processors and conglomerate chain companies. This gives the consumer fewer independent organic brands to choose from. You can also see the change between June 2009 to May 2013, with several notable and very large acquisitions of organic brands in the food industry.
This information is provided by Phil Howard, Associate Professor at Michigan State University.