They are the companies you love to hate, purveyors of overly packaged processed foods, the Top 30 food processors in North America.
Or are they? Companies like Kraft, Pepsi and General Mills have joined the new wave of start-ups and stand-bys serving the growing market of informed consumers who want better, greener food. Due to complex or shadowy relationships, or simply because no one can keep up with mergers and acquisitions, you may react as one TreeHugger staffer did: "I must admit to be a little bummed learning about Seeds of Change and Dagoba."
Before you can decide whether the big boys joining the trend is the start of a new era or the beginning of the end, you need to at least know who has their fingers in which pot. Thanks to the good folks at GOOD magazine, there is now a quick reference guide in graphical format for an easy overview. Do you want to know who is behind Seeds of Change or Dagoba or 28 other organic brands?
Yep, that's right. M&M; Mars and Hershey are behind Seeds of Change and Dagoba, respectively. Can a chocoholic safely buy these goodies, knowing they are sending the right message back to the marketers? Or are they playing party to an evil ploy to mask the bulk of the business-as-usual behind a thin sheen of green?
The 3 biggest food processors which have joined the race to be perceived as organic are Kraft, Pepsi and General Mills. Kraft acquired the vegan oriented Boca in 2000 and Organic Milling Inc.'s Back to Nature cereal and granola business in 2003. Pepsi stepped into Naked Juice in 2006. General Mills inherited both Cascadian Farms and Muir Glen with the acquisition of Small Planet Foods in 1999.
Heinz, only 27th in overall ranking for food processing, is behind the largest number of organic brands, due to their strategic alliance with Hain Celestial. Rounding out the "green" members of the top 30 food processors are: Dean, Conagra, Cadbury Schweppes, Kellogg and (of course) Coca-cola.
To see the complete graphic, check out the original Buying Organic graphic at GOOD magazine.