Part of the appeal buying organic, earth friendly, fair traded products (for me) is supporting small and when possible, local businesses. I marvelled at the merchandising power my favourite hemp/pumpkin organic granola has. Now it sits amongst the big brand cereals in the supermarket. Three cheers for the little guy! Then I read Ecoholic (excellent book) and starting nosing around the internet.
Turns out big corporations are cashing in on the organic movement and buying up small mom & pop companies. (o.k. not really a surprise) Unfortunately, it is hard to know because you will not find corporate logos or other indicators on most of the packaging. It is a secret…sort of. According toEcoholic, “40% of packaged organic foods on health food stores have been bought by large American Corporations”. That statistic surprises me.
Some people think this is a good thing in that sheer volume will bring down prices and make products more affordable. Big corporations will be able to deliver the products to a wider audience too. Others are concerned about corporate ethics. What if the big guys bend the rules and water down quality and standards? How can a company that manufactures toxic drain cleaner and conducts animal testing also produce organic/biodegradable/cruelty-free shampoo?
Did you know about these acquisitions?
Heinz Hain-Celestial = Image/Rice Dream/Soy Dream, Earth’s Best (Baby food) , Casbah, Nile Spice, Spectrum
Kellogg = Kashi Cereal, Morningstar Farms
Coca-Cola = Odwalla Juices
Kraft = Back to Nature, Boca Foods (soy “meat” products)
Danone = Stonyfield Farm (yogurt)
Mars = Seeds of Change
Cadbury Schweppes = Green & Black’s, Nantucket Organic Nectars
Pepsi = Naked Juice
Colgate-Palmolive = Tom’s of Maine
Clorox = Burt’s Bees
Yup. Seriously. Kind of throws a wrench into good, socially conscious shopping thing, doesn’t it?
Many corporations think their affiliation will deter some of us from buying their products. A few are starting to add their logos to packaging since many consumers value the big name connection. I find the secrecy a turn off. It will not stop me from buying some of the products we enjoy. I question the so-called “responsible brands” and will make a few changes to my shopping list in the future.
What do you think?