Dec 12 2013

Food & Water Watch: Grocery Goliaths

Food and Water Watch has some excellent new resources on supermarket shopping:

Food & Water Watch found that the top companies controlled an average of 63.3 percent of the sales of 100 types of groceries (known as categories in industry jargon). In a third (32) of the grocery categories, four or fewer companies controlled at least 75 percent of the sales.

I will never think of “choice” the same way again.

  • Lorraine Lewandrowski

    Farm leaders spoke of the tremendous power of large scale food retail sectors to push down farmgate prices at the 2010 ag antitrust hearings. Hearings were held around the country to take a look at food and industry consolidation. Mostly farmers spoke at the hearings, did not see any food movement groups speaking or in the audience at the NY hearing held in Upstate, NY.

  • http://www.EqualExchange.coop Rodney North

    Great post. However, no discussion of concentration in the food industry is complete without the research by Prof. Phil Howard of Michigan State.
    Coincidently his fun charts & graphs nicely complement those done by Food & Water Watch. Below are the links to his charts on the corporations that dominate the organic, beer and soda markets – often via their hidden ownership of seemingly independent small brands. He also helps identify some of the real independent brands that are out there.

    https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/organicindustry.html

    https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/beer.html

    https://www.msu.edu/~howardp/softdrinks.html

  • Novagene

    Who is Food and Water Watch and why should anyone take their report at face value?

    Food & Water Watch found that the top companies controlled an average of 63.3 percent of the sales of 100 types of groceries

    Unsurprising.

    Think of them less as food companies and more of food distributers.

    It’s not all that nefarious. There’s advantage in consolidation and scale. The top airlines with the largest network move the most people and do the most business.

    Even when there is small and local food company, they hit a ceiling if they want to reach more costumers, that’s when they merge with a larger company with the means of facilitating broader distribution.

    The paper claims that these food companies drive up prices, but the common food movement criticism is that food is too cheap. Which is it?

    I will never think of “choice” the same way again.

    Comparatively, visit places on the Earth on the fringes of large food distributors and report back on the “choices” in those environments.

    It’s certainly seems like a first-world problem to shop in typical American supermarkets exploding with abundance (and no, there aren’t just soda and chips) and bemoan lack of choice and “high” food prices.