Once upon a time, there was a very distinct dividing line between the health food industry and the mass-market retailers and their grocery suppliers. The mass market mighty giants versus the small mom and pop producers of real food in the health food industry. We have written about this takeover trend before (Mass-market buying out health food companies). Do you feel comfortable having Pepsi, Coco Cola, and the makers of Spam, producing health foods and that claim to make organic cruelty-free foods in your health food stores? Or the companies fighting State GMO labeling laws owning companies that claim to be GMO-free?
Over the last three years, the 10 largest U.S. packaged food companies have seen about $17 billion in sales evaporate. This is a result of several factors: grocery store price wars are causing the big food retailers to invest in their own private labels; consumers continuing to trend away from processed prepackaged foods in favor of fresh foods; and on-line retail sales by companies such as Amazon (which acquired Whole Foods) booming at the expense of mass-market retail chain stores and their grocery suppliers.
As the latest example, the Chlorox Company ($6 Billion in sales and owner of various bleach and cleaning products , Pine-Sol® cleaners; Liquid Plumr® clog removers; Poett® home care products; Fresh Step® cat litter; Glad® bags; Kingsford® charcoal; Hidden Valley® dressings and sauces; Brita® water-filtration products; Burt’s Bees® natural personal care products; and RenewLife® digestive health products) announced the pending acquisition of Nutranext, a health and wellness company based in Sunrise, Florida for $700 million or 3.5 times its annual sales.
Here are some other recent acquisitions of health food companies by mass-market firms courtesy of mentalfloss.com:
(It is a tricky situation when parent companies such as when General Mills and Kellogg’s and others funded opposition efforts to California’s GMO labeling proposition at the same time that some of their “natural” brands were promoting the non-use of GM ingredients.)
General Mills purchased Annie’s Homegrown for $820 million
Coca Cola purchased Honest Tea
Hormel (maker of Spam) purchased Applegate Farms (maker of persticide and hormone free meats)
PepsiCo purchased Naked Juice (In 2013, Pepsi settled a class action lawsuit brought by consumers who contested the label’s “100% Juice” and “All Natural” claims, among others. Pepsi paid out $9 million and agreed to stop printing “All Natural” on its Naked Juice bottles.)
Kelloggs bought Kashi Foods (Kelloggs funded the efforts to defeat the California anti-GMO labeling law while its brand Kashi promised to remove GMO’s from its products.)
General Mills purchased Foods Should Taste Good along with Larabar, and Cascadian Farm.
WhiteWave Foods, formerly a subsidiary of dairy giant Dean Foods, purchased Earthbound Farms
Kelloggs purchased Bear Naked Food
Danone (yogurt) purchased Stonyfield Farms (yogurt) which has recently had some controversy over their yoghut’s sugar content
Campbell’s Soup Co. purchased Bolthouse Farms
Purdue (chickens and a history of animal welfare problems) purchased Coleman Naturals and also Niman Ranch (both producers of organic meat and “humanely raised meat” — so the chickens are let outside to play each day before getting axed).
Green & Blacks’s (organic chocolate) sold to Cadbury which was purchased by Kraft Foods which then spun it off into a company called Mondelez owner of Tricuit, Tang and Chips Ahoy!
Okay, so is this a good thing? Probably not. The purchase of many leading natural foods companies by huge mass-market brands who found that their own sales have been eroding due to changing consumer tastes away from highly processed, packed, pesticide and hormone-impregnated, GMO “foods” … shows these large companies are no longer fighting the health food industry but are taking it over.
As the line between health foods and junk foods have blurred by these acquisitions and what inevitably will be the morphing of both into something unrecognizable, it is somewhat disturbing and therefore time to visit a friend, this Spotted Moray Eel under a rock off the Cayman Islands.