The 13 Most Powerful Women in Food

These women play a big role in influencing what and how we eat
Most Powerful Women in Food

Composite by Kristen Hom

Powerful women include (clockwise) Ingrid Newkirk, Susan Neely, Rachael Ray, and Indra Nooyi.

Run a Google image search for “CEO” and it’ll be pretty obvious that the division of power in this country is still dominated by men: The first woman to appear is several rows down, and it’s — we’re not joking — CEO Barbie. And for the most part, when we think about people in positions of power, we tend to think of men, because such a high percentage of the world’s most powerful people are men. But today we’re celebrating the women who hold those high-ranking positions, specifically in the world of food.

The 13 Most Powerful Women in Food (Slideshow)

Every year for the past six years, we’ve conducted extensive research into the influencers and decision makers in the world of food in order to assemble our annual ranking of America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food. Some people who have power in the food world have it literally — the power to make laws, disrupt the marketplace, control supply chains. Others exercise it in more subtle ways: They are the watchdogs, the inspirers, the facilitators.

Some of our most powerful people are agribusiness moguls or CEOs of major food processing and distribution concerns; some are elected or appointed officials who concern themselves with the economics and the safety of our food supply; some are celebrity chefs and other public figures who start trends and speak up for what they believe.

In order to assemble our ranking, we came up with our nominations, a combination of last year's list (along with people who had appeared on previous iterations and then dropped off for one reason or another) and new candidates drawn from our own coverage of important personalities and events in food circles over the past 12 months. Next, we graded each nominee on five criteria: the number of people directly reached, the number of ways in which the candidate can reach people, and the candidate's past accomplishments, potential for future accomplishments, and proven ability to reach and influence people through her actions.


The women on our list run the gamut from media moguls to lobbyosts to CEOS of multinational corporations, but one thing is for certain: They all play a major role in influencing what and how we eat.