buzzfeed.com – If it wasn’t apparent that organic food had gone corporate, the sirens clearly sounded this year when the retail behemoth Amazon acquired Whole Foods, which itself had already become an icon of corporatized natural food.
The acquisitions of companies in the organic food business “took off in the ’90s but now involve bigger and bigger companies,” said Philip Howard, a professor at Michigan State University, who has tracked the consolidation of the industry over the decades.
In 2017, it’s rare to find a well-known natural food brand that isn’t owned by a huge corporation. J.M. Smucker acquired Santa Cruz Organic in 1989. General Mills bought Cascadian Farm in 1999. In 2011, Coca-Cola bought Honest Tea. And if PepsiCo buying a kombucha maker in 2016 wasn’t enough, this past April, the French multinational food company Danone completed its acquisition of the vey company that popularized soy milk with Americans, WhiteWave Foods, aka the maker of Silk milks.
“It is without a doubt a different world,” said Tim Sperry, a consultant to organic products companies who has worked in the industry since the 1970s, including several years at Whole Foods.
If the global takeover of soy milk didn’t signal the end for the hippies, Whole Foods selling itself to Amazon almost certainly does. And it’s just one of several changes shaking up the organic food business as we know it.
Who owns whom
Organic food proponents “had a mission: that Americans would eat better food, would know where it came from, how it was grown, they’d have some assurances of quality food,” Sperry said. “We succeeded, big time. More than any of us could have ever imagined.” Now, as the folks who kicked off the movement decades ago approach retirement age, “It’s time for us to turn things over to a different [age] group,” he said.
I keep telling ya’ll…. technology is going to keep pushing us out the way until the damn robots take over smh