What do Coca-Cola, Kellogg and Dean Foods have in common, besides being marketers of some of the most popular food items found on grocery shelves? They all own organic brands.
And they are not alone. Most of the top 25 food producers own one or more organic brands and are rapidly developing their own.
Here’s a short list of some of the most popular organic brands and their corporate parents :
Odwalla (Coca Cola)
Morningstar ( Kellogg)
Horizon (Dean Foods)
Boca Foods ( Kraft)
Earth’s Best (Heinz)
Cascadian Farms (General Mills)
Naked Juice (Pepsi)
We shouldn’t be surprised, after all, once these products appeared in our local grocery store, we should have known. But, it is worth raising the question: how big is still green?
Dr. Phil Howard, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, concludes recent trends in organic food have both positive and negative effects:
On the positive side more and more of our foods are healthier for us, as more and more become certified organic. The USDA standards for organic prohibit genetically engineered and irradiated ingredients and synthetic pesticides. The volume purchasing power of these large corporations has also helped bring down the average cost of organic foods and increased their availability.
On the flip side, rather than rotating crops, major food manufacturers tend to plant a single item, then farm in on an industrial scale using trucked in organic fertilizer. Then harvested product is processed, packaged and shipped all over the world increasing fossil fuel consumption and packaging waste.
So, is it a wash? Should we be concerned about the industrialization of organic foods or should we applaud the fact that our food supply is becoming healthier? Dr. Howard thinks both.
As the industry evolves, we must address concentration in the industry, where food comes from, how far it travels and by what means, packaging and waste, a living wage for farm workers, preserving farmland and keeping farmers on the land, and continuing to be the front line for sustainability.
The success of organic, is a striking reminder that we have the power to influence the way food is grown, processed and distributed. Those who continue to fight for the ideals of the original organic movement should feel optimistic about achieving these goals in the future.
Read more about this topic at: PCC Sound Consumer.
See organic brands owned by the top 25 Food Producers here.
Related Posts: Natural Means “Nothing”; Clorox Benefits From FDA’s Decision On Natural; Is Windex Greener With Green List?Natural Means Nothing – What Does Everything Else Mean?
Jennifer Lance says
I had no idea that Odwalla was owned by Coca Cola. It definitely makes me think twice before by my daughter another super food.
I had a long chat with Dr Howard at the end of 2007 which was fascinating especially as I am based in the UK. He is the only person to have done this type of analysis that I have come across in 6 years of research.
Its absolutely fundamental to understanding the organic movement and how it is being captured by the Big Brands.
But, is that not to be expect when the small producer and processor just does not understand sales and marketing nor, on the other hand, makes any attempt to do so. They are ignoring at their peril a further threat to their livelihood, namely the New EU Member States. Their land is almost entirely pristine as a result of the lack of investment when under Communism.
This must be the only good thing to come out of that period of mans history.
Our website has listed
400 Organic Brands.
5,000 Organic Products.
3,000 Organic Producers.
1,000 Organic Processors.
Keep up with the news.
See a list of Organic Certifiers.
MC Milker says
Great info Graham!
Thanks for posting!
Michael Pollan calls this “industrial organics” in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think this is contributing to the dilution of the original idea of organic: when you’re growing food at an industrial scale, trucking it across the country, and selling it at a premium – is that really still organic? But as Graham points out – the marketing money & know-how is behind the big brands. This industrial organic agriculture is just as unsustainable as regular industrial agriculture, thus moving us away from our goals, not toward them.
Seems to me, what’s not discussed here is the mega corps food lobbying power and the steps they have already taken to weaken organic labeling laws. I try not to buy them. This has been happening with milk and dairy. I think on some level organic farming is incompatible with factory farming. Perhaps a consensus can be reached but as long as mega corps make decisions strictly based on profit, what are the chances?
I signed up for the Organic Consumers Association, which is a “sign our petition”/”get our newsletter” watchdog website. If you want to get depressed about organics read this round up of headlines on their site:
Heres a sample:
EPA TO ALLOW PESTICIDE TESTING ON ORPHANS & MENTALLY HANDICAPPED CHILDREN – http://www.organicconsumers.org/epa6.cfm
BOYCOTT THE SHAMELESS SEVEN–ORGANIC OUTLAWS LABELING FACTORY FARM MILK AS ‘USDA ORGANIC – http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=4756&t=
NEW PROPOSED USDA ORGANIC REGULATIONS COULD DRIVE THOUSANDS OF SMALL ORGANIC FARMERS OUT OF BUSINESS – http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11101&t=
ALERT: USDA Says Foods Labeled as ‘Raw’ Can Be Pasteurized – http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=11403&t=
As good as Naked Juice by Pepsi tastes and clears you out. It is not Organic but, is All Natural unfortunately there is a different. Pepsi is coming out with Organic Orange and Apple Juice though. The reason I know all this info b/c My Momma’s on the inside and gives me all the Organic dirt. Also she is in charge of the supplies for her region and I talked her into buy recycled paper and other Eco-friendly products. One company at a time!!!
For years I was a corporate slave (in advertising. I even worked on three of the companies on the list above). None of them could figure out for themselves how to get into the organic/green areas so they just bought those companies to take advantage of the profits and sales in the organic area. Their corporate concern was little to nothing. Ward is correct, they also lobby to weaken organic standards (what is considered organic milk is different now than it was 5 years ago). I try to buy local when I can vs. organic as well.
The problem is that when these smaller companies have lots of money waved in their face, it’s hard to say no. Starting up and maintaining a small company is hard.
FYI, Coke just purchased Smart Water and Vitamin Water as well. A great brand to try that has not be purchased yet is Evolution (like Naked). Though they may only still be on the west coast.
I wondered why SmartWater and Vitamin water were being sold in vending machines.
Thanks for the post!
In my neck of the woods (DC), Honest Tea just announced that Coca-Cola now owns a 40% stake in the company. I have mixed feelings about this. On the positive side, a huge influx of cash and worldwide distribution channels beyond anything that a small business could ever dream of means that more people than ever will have access to Honest Tea, and thus, a healthier option than soda or other high fructose corn syrup beverages. My only concern is that the big CC might change the way that HT manufactures its product and in some way dilute the brand’s purity.
Daniel Keough says
so though these companies’ products do NOT contain GMOs, buying things like Odwalla juice allows your money to trickle UP and FIGHTS GMO Labeling.
that doesn’t taste very good.