Scour the aisles of the grocery store, and you may be astonished to find just how many types of Pringles there are out there. But while there seems to be no end to the diversity of junk food and drink, a comprehensive infographic has been put together to show you just how few corporations provide us with the hundreds of products available at our fingertips.
“What we did is we took certain issues … [and] we saw the kind of impacts they had on the ground,” Chris Jochnick of Oxfam told NPR. “We released reports about those issues and those impacts and how they’re tied to the 10 largest food and beverage companies. And then we pushed the companies to begin to address them.”
You may not normally associate makers of soda with makers of granola bars, but seeing these unlikely ties that form the “Big 10” of the food and beverage industry controlling what we put in our carts proves just how easy it is to be duped by the American food system.
For instance, PepsiCo produces Quaker granola bars, while Nestlé makes frozen California Pizza Kitchen pies. Want to feel even more misinformed? Pineapple Fanta doesn’t come from a tropical island at all, but is canned at the Coca-Cola factory, just like Barq’s root beer.
“These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment,” noted Alexander E.M. Hess in USA Today.
The fact that you can count on just two hands who controls our groceries is a bizarre thought, but a much-needed realization. They include: PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Associated British Foods, Mondēlez (formerly Kraft Foods), Mars, Danone, Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Nestle.
Even more disturbing is the fact that it’s not just the junk food that’s involved. These giant corporations make it extremely difficult for startups and small businesses to compete at all.
Furthermore, while OxFam America only examined the top-earning companies for its campaign, natural brands have been a part of big buyouts, too. So while you may opt for brands you consider to be better choices, liked Naked Juice and Garden of Eatin’ all-natural chips, many of our favourite alternatives still cost more but are now owned by the very companies we’re trying to avoid, like Coca-Cola and General Mills.
Also disturbing is the environmental impact these companies are having on the health of our planet. As Business Insider reported, “the Big 10 emitted 263.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 and if the companies were a nation, it would be the 25th most polluting country in the world.”
To take action, you can help by steering clear of the Big 10 altogether. That means being aware of everything they manufacture, and ensuring you don’t buy any of those products. Choose to shop at your local farmers’ markets, and continue to do your research when it comes to the small-scale brands you love, because you never know when they may get bought out, too.