It’s nice to think that every food brand out there is independently owned, churning out their product in a mom-and-pop style operation like the Keebler elves in their hollowed-out tree, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the majority of food products that you’ll find in the supermarket are owned by a much larger conglomerate, and heck, even the Keebler elves are owned by parent company Kellogg.
When you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense for individual brands to be owned by much larger enterprises. Even though almost all of the brands we find in the supermarket started out as small, privately owned businesses, scaling up to national (and international) distribution is something that requires immense resources in the form of capital, marketing, product and brand development, supply chain and ingredient sourcing, and production, and independently owned brands for the most part simply can’t handle it all by themselves. In fact, there are trade shows every year in which the inventors of new food products pitch their brands to the big guys, praying that they’ll be taken under one of the big umbrellas.
The country’s biggest food companies are massive. Revenues for the biggest ones tend to be in the tens of billions of dollars annually, with tens of billions in assets, billions in profits, and hundreds of thousands of employees. They play a major role in shaping the discourse and policies around food production and are extremely influential in the global food system; for example, if they all made an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the effect could be huge.
While it’s important to know who’s really behind your favorite snacks, it’s also fascinating. It’s difficult to find the name of the parent company on a food product’s packaging unless you know where to look. So read on to see who really owns some of your favorite food brands; you might be surprised!
The Coca-Cola Company
Shutterstock/ Joseph Sohm
Shutterstock/ Ken Wolter