Annie’s Homegrown, a popular brand of organic meals, salad dressings and snack foods, will soon be under the wing of General Mills, which is set to buy the company for a whopping 820 million dollars. This purchase signifies the latest effort by big-name food manufacturers to overtake organic brands, in order to increase their favor with health-conscious consumers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that through this purchase, General Mills is, “betting that a bigger presence in the natural-and-organic food aisles will energize a business sapped by flagging consumption of breakfast cereals and other traditional fare.” The WSJ also points out that cereal sales have been dipping in recent years in favor of breakfast items such as yogurt.
This is not the first time that General Mills has purchased a brand which has its base in the health food and organic market. It also owns Muir Glen organics, Small Planet Foods and Food Should Taste Good. Similarly, Plum Organics is owned by the Campbell company, and Earthbound Farm is owned by Dean Foods.
General Mills United States chief operating officer, Jeff Harmening, stated, “we believe that combining the Annie’s product portfolio and go-to-market capabilities with General Mills’ supply chain, sales and marketing resources will accelerate the growth of our organic and natural foods business.”
While Annie’s spokespeople have been assuring consumers that they will stick to their values, many are notably disappointed with the company’s decision. One of the main criticisms is that Annie’s has “sold out” to a company that has given significant funds to the opposition of genetically modified food labeling at the state level.
Additionally, so-called “natural” food companies owned by large food retailers do not have the best track record. As we reported, the Kashi brand, which is owned by the Kellogg company, was found not long ago to be utilizing GMOs and other synthetic ingredients in its products, all while pushing its “all-natural” image to customers.
Responding to the criticism, the chief executive of Annie’s, John Foraker, stated, “I don’t want to talk prospectively about what could happen to Annie’s, but I would say that there is a core consumer that is increasingly focused on transparency, quality, and wants to make sure that the companies that they support are staying true to the values that they profess in their packaging and their brand position.”
Whether or not Annie’s “stays true to its values” or not, perhaps the bigger issue to note is that even when labeled as organic, a processed food is still a processed food. As we explored earlier, the organic food label on processed food items still allows over 100 synthetic ingredients into the mix. These products are also manufactured using processes that may deplete many of the health benefits of the organic foods they utilize.
To truly ensure the quality of your food, and its health quotient, choose whole organic ingredients, including raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and make your meals at home, with love. Do not rely on a processed food company, even one labeled organic, to look out for your best interest.
-The Alternative Daily