The Food Cartel

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Ten companies behind the world’s top selling food products.

Large version here.

22words/washingtonpost

19 thoughts on “The Food Cartel

  1. Ploika

    Is this really a cartel or is it just a list of big food companies? Either way, we can’t be mentioning mainstream corporations unless it’s in a negative light.

    Who’s the hipster now, Broadsheet?

      1. Ploika

        Doesn’t “cartel” imply doing illegal stuff like price-fixing? It’s not just another word for “group,” like.

        Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and find a good bubble tea…

    1. Padi

      It’s very easy to live a life with little interaction with these companies if you so wish…but that wouldn’t make for a very good passive aggressive post about how all companies are evil now would it!

      And if I’m told that only ‘de rich’ could afford fresh foods to avoid these companies that is rubbish!

    2. SOMK

      Within a neo-liberalist (or whatever you want to call it) ideological framework, we are told to prefer the market over the state, that consumerism is an evolved form of democracy, but democracy (allegedly) involves a meaningful choice, we mostly when dealing with big companies make our choices through branding (that’s why Adidas paid £700 big mommas for the right to brand Manchester United today, the value is going up because the premium on has branding increased, this is an observable, measurable trend), but really what this shows is that the ‘choice’ is a lie, there’s really no choice.

      For example one of these companies is Unilever, they own both Dove and Lynx, one product motivates it’s customers to buy it because cruelly objectifies women to think of themselves an not being as beautiful as they really are, the other products populates their ads with hundreds of scantily clad models who chase around above average looking men when they spray themselves with their product. Both selling very different messages, very different choices, but that choice is meaningless because it ultimately funds the one company.

      So that’s one level, the other is the risk of powerful monopolies using their power and relative homogeny to press for regulations that favour their profit making interests, which might not necessarily overlap with the interest of people (who are supposedly the bosses of those same regulators). So you get pressure to roll out things like genetically modified foods (which in and of itself is fine BTW) without them being properly tested, you get pressure to let them use certain chemicals, preservation becomes a higher priority than nutrition, ditto anything addictive. There’s a reason they broke up the railroads at the start of the twentieth century, it’s not just about them having too much power, but how that can stifle whole societies (and now post-globalisation potentially an entire planet), you get price fixing, political lobbying, a strangling of innovation and competition, conspiracies to fix wages.

      It’s not about ‘mainstream big companies’, saying they can only be mentioned in a negative light is ridiculous, especially considering how much money these companies spend on PR and advertising, we see them in a positive light EVERYWHERE you just don’t notice it because it’s become so ubiquitous. There’s nothing wrong with mainstream big companies in and of themselves (unless you want to get into the whole Marx thing of course), big companies can do things that are very useful that smaller ones can’t, like build massive factories, push forward innovation through demanding scale and infrastructure support, invest heavily in research, but that doesn’t mean they mostly exist to serve their own interests, not yours.

      Take two Dung beetles, beetle one thinks the elephant poops because the elephant really cares them, beetle two thinks the elephant doesn’t care and might be a threat, what do you think happens when the elephant is walking towards them, which beetle is more likely get out of the way and which is more likely to get trampled?

      Ultimately the big ones (companies not elephants) all operate on the bottom line, that’s their nature, it’s in their interest to get as most amount of money out of you as possible with the minimum cost, so it’s not a daft proposition then of having a healthy skepticism about anything a large corporation does, and a general awareness of what they’re up to doesn’t hurt.

  2. Mike

    Unilever looks middle of the road when placed among these, add none food and you see a different picture entirely.

    1. Banotti

      If you added all of the food products outside those brands into the chart it would be a thousand times bigger.

  3. lorcan nagle

    In all honesty, it was wierder when Procter and Gamble owned Pringles. I worked in one of Tesco’s warehouses around ’99 and you’d get Persil, Bold and Pringles coming in off the same truck.

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