By Joe Romano,
Warren Buffett, the man who heavily backed President Barack Obama's reelection bid, recently made the largest transaction in food industry history, when he and other investors made a leveraged buyout of H.J. Heinz and Company for 23.2 billion dollars in cash. While this is a massive merger, the trend toward consolidation of giant food companies may not stop here. According to Michael Balaban of Forbes magazine and other industry sources, "Heinz is a stepping stone to a larger food conglomerate ... up next for a mega-deal could be the Campbell Soup Company, or even Kraft." Likewise, CNNMoney is reporting that "merger activity has been hot this year" signaling "that other companies will now want to follow Buffett's lead and look to the grocery shelves for merger opportunities."
We are not talking about farmers or chefs who are toiling to deliver the best quality food possible, instead we are talking about mega-moguls who view food solely as a source of profit. "Big Food merits a fresh look," declares Reuters and New York Times financial analyst, Quentin Webb. "Companies that are purveyors of meals, sauces, and spreads may offer better value than is immediately obvious."
By Becca Harber
A number of organic food companies, in most cases regional businesses originally, have been bought up by some of the world's biggest agribusiness corporations. These purchases tend to take place very quietly so that consumers won't know that these companies — and their products — are no longer what they were. Many such products can be found on GreenStar's shelves. The Hain Celestial Group, in a joint venture with Cargill, owns no less than Earth's Best, Spectrum Organics (oils), Garden of Eatin', Arrowhead Mills, Health Valley, Imagine Foods and non-dairy Dream brands, Celestial Seasonings, Westbrae, Westsoy, Little Bear, Walnut Acres — and that list isn't exhaustive. Smucker's owns Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organics, and After the Fall juices; Cadbury, Green & Black's; and Nestle, Tribe Mediterranean Foods and Poland Spring, which many communities are fighting, trying to stop them from taking their local water, usually for free. French conglomerate Danone owns both Stonyfield and Brown Cow. Note, too, that non-foods companies that once created pure products have also traded hands. Clorox now owns Burt's Bees, while Colgate-Palmolive owns Tom's of Maine and Procter & Gamble bought New Chapter supplements.
Because the priority for these mega-corporations is their bottom line, minimizing expenses in order to maximize profits, their products' quality, sooner or later, almost always becomes poorer. For example, in 2007 Danone had to recall large quantities of its yogurt after it was found to contain unsafe levels of dioxins. Kashi cereals actually found themselves in a lawsuit because of the large amounts of GMOs and pesticides discovered in their products, according to the Cornucopia Institute's report. Kashi's Heart to Heart Blueberry cereal was found to contain grains coated in residues of many pesticides. Other products were oftentimes found to contain 100 percent GMOs.
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New in Grocery
As always, we've got you covered for Thanksgiving, from the main course to the sides and everything else.
All right, members, you know the drill. ... It's Thanksgiving time once again! This year, just like every year, we have everything you're looking for to complete your holiday table right here in the Grocery Department. Organize your meal around either a local turkey or a number of main-course vegan options. From there, we've got stuffing boxes or ingredients, tasty, high-quality organic pumpkin and organic cranberry sauce in cans, organic baking ingredients, and every other fixin' you might need! For the record, it's never too early to start thinking about the next round of holidays coming up soon. We'll be rolling out some tasty desserts and treats to keep the holiday celebration going and going and going and going. ... And if you haven't yet, look for our new and improved Co-op Basics list, found at the front of the store. The Grocery Department is full of bargains perfect for pantry-stocking.