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10 Corporations Control Almost All the World’s Food

By Dylan Love

Almost everything you eat comes from the same collection of 10 food companies.

Let that sink in.

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This image — found on the social media site Reddit — shows just how far the big food companies tentacles stretch. Just ten food companies combine to produce a massive amount of the food and drink we all consume. For some consumers, these 10 companies reflect nearly the vast majority of daily calories consumed. The extent of big food’s corporate centralization is staggering, especially when you consider the essential staples. The industry’s vertical and horizontal integration has led to corporate control of an incredible array of food products. Nestlé, for example – best known for its chocolate –  also makes baby food. Soda company PepsiCo owns KFC. Cereal brand General Mills owns yogurt Yoplait.

Here’s a breakdown of the five biggest food producers:

 

Nestlé SA

Market Capitalization: $152.87 billion

Revenue: $90.3 billion

Profits: $9.1 billion

Employees: 335,000

Headquarters: Vevey, Switzerland

Originally a milk and baby food provider, Nestlé has broadened its operations to include a variety of popular food products. While Nestle has received high marks from Oxfam International for its commitments to socially responsible operations, it is still criticized for being complicit in grabbing land to muscle out small farmers.

 

PepsiCo Inc.

Market Capitalization: $179.35 billion

Revenue: $63.06 billion

Profits: $34.67 billion

Employees: 263,00

Headquarters: Purchase, New York

Longtime Coke competitor, Pepsi has surpassed its rival becoming the world’s second largest food and drink vendor. Indian-American CEO Indra Nooyi has earned praise for her leadership and vision of reform for the company.

 

The Coca-Cola Company

Market Capitalization: $179.35 billion

Revenue: $44.29 billion

Profits: $26.81 billion

Employees: 700,000

Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

From a 19th-century soda drink, the Coca-Cola Company has evolved into a multinational beverage goliath. Its savvy advertising cemented the company as a global icon. Outside of its definitive brown drink, Coke also owns Fanta, Dasani, Minute Maid, Fresca, Simply Orange, and a variety of other drink brands.

 

General Mills

Market Capitalization: $36.8 billion

Revenue: $16.56 billion

Profits: $5.85 billion

Employees: 39,000

Headquarters: Golden Valley, Minnesota

A definitive multinational food business, General Mills’ products are completely ubiquitous: Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Haagen-Dazs, and Cheerios are all offshoots of the General Mills machine, just to name a few. The company has garnered its share of criticism for deceptive advertising on the health benefits of its cereals.

 

Mars

Market Capitalization: unknown

Revenue: $33 billion

Profits: unknown

Employees: unknown

Headquarters: McLean, Virginia

As a family-owned private company, Mars provides little financial information about itself. The producer of iconic snacks like M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers, and Twix has made commitments to drop partnerships with suppliers of palm oil and cocoa that violate human rights, deforest sensitive land, and contribute to climate change. Because of its lackluster history in these areas, time will tell.

 

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It’s easy to feel like corporate tentacles have too closely wrapped themselves around our food supply. If you’re anxious knowing that money spent on food ultimately goes to just a handful of these companies, you can vote every day with your dollar. Buy more fresh produce and cook at home more often. And visit farmers markets and local food co-ops. The good news is though these 10 companies control most of what we eat, there are thousands of artisan and smaller producers and a burgeoning new food movement bringing new values and transparency into the food system.

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