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Who Owns What in the Organic food industry

Phil Howard
, author of these charts, is assistant professor at Michigan State University's Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource

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Chart showing the structure of the organic industry in North America and beyond

See how ownership of organic companies transitioned from 1995 to 2007, in an animated sequence [9MB], produced by Phil Howard in collaboration with Skye Bender-deMoll, an author of SoNIA (Social Network Image Animator).

See also charts showing:

COMMENTS? Click here to read chart author Phil Howard's comments and discussion in our forum - and make your own comment.

List of assets owned by food companies (Wikipedia)


Organic companies swallowed up by Big Ag
The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry's image - contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms - is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.

The Future of Organic Products: Brands or Private Labels?
Pioneering brands are re-inventing themselves to widen consumer appeal. However, retailer private labels are also evolving with some transcending traditional boundaries. The O Organics private label has expanded from Safeway retailers into foodservice outlets in the U.S. It has also developed an international presence, marketed by numerous food retailers in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Whole Foods 'Organics' From China!
Whole Foods, which touts its support for locally grown food and organic agriculture, imports a great deal of its frozen food from China.

What Happens When Big Corporations Take Over Green Companies
It is a fairly familiar story in business. Someone has an idea, a passion. He or she builds a spectacular small business around that idea, builds a reputation for creating something really unique, and people love the business. Then, the owner sells the company to a large corporation.

Organic, Inc. - Natural Foods and How They Grew - Samuel FromartzamazonOrganic Inc - Natural Foods and How They Grewamazon
By Samuel Fromartz
Fromartz, a business reporter who focused on startup companies in publications like Inc. and Fortune Small Business, writes in the introduction to "Organic, Inc.": "I was particularly interested in people who sought to manifest their values in their businesses. ... The intersection of idealism and business was not an easy place to stand, since one usually trumped the other." The following statistics - "Sales of organic food had shot up about 20% per year since 1990, reaching $11 billion by 2003" -- indicate that the organics industry, which has its roots in utopian ideologies, is in for an interesting ride. - San Francisco Chronicle

Who's Really Behind Organic Food Brands Like Amy's and Odwalla?
Over the past decade many small organic food brands have been snapped up by giant corporations. Clearly, this can be bad for standards and quality.

The battle for the soul of the organic movement
"It's now no different from conventional farming - producers are being squeezed, products are over-packaged, let alone the numbers of air miles that are used to fly organic goods around the world."

Mega-producers tip scales as organic goes mainstream
"I think organic is not quite what people think at this point," said Michael Pollan, a UC Berkeley journalism professor whose new book, The Omnivore's Dilemmaamazon; takes a hard - and ultimately critical - look at what he calls "industrial organic." From Green Giants in the San Francisco Chronicle


AP, Miami Herad - May 23, 2013.
Campbell buying Plum Organics baby food maker
In an interview, CEO Denise Morrison said Campbell planned to keep Plum as a distinct brand. For example, the packaging will not be changed to reflect the new ownership.
Full text

Stephanie Strom, New York Times - July 14, 2012
Organic companies swallowed up by Big Ag
Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.
Full text

Ari Le Vaux, Denver Post - July 26, 2009
Organic goes down a slippery road
Even as the demand for organic food continues to explode, organic farmers in America are getting thrown under the very beet cart they helped build.
Full text

Samuel Fromartz, Huffington Post - July 7, 2009.
Is Organic in an End-Game?
In short, though some are controversial, you would be hard-pressed to find any processed organic food business arguing for a blanket dismissal of all synthetics.
Full text

The Cornucopia Institute - October 13, 2008.
Collateral Damage: Organic Farmers Being Squeezed Out

They claim the acquisition of major brands by corporate agribusiness, and their dependence on factory farms, threatens to force families off the land and deprive consumers of the superior nutritional food they think they are paying for.
Full text


Organic farming news MORE ORGANIC FARMING NEWS

The Question: How do I decide where to buy?

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