Whether we go to a restaurant, or shop at the local grocery store, we often take for granted all that goes into getting that food on to our dinner plates. Behind all the food we eat are giant conglomerate organizations and although there are many that have a hand in what we’re eating, we’ve come up with the Top 10 Companies That Control The World’s Food Supply.
There are so many companies involved in the food supply, and the top ten spots are definitely secured by a few big names that are quite recognizable. But of course there are also smaller names that still gross quite a lot of money at year’s end. And although maybe not as much money as some, they still seem to have quite the monopoly on the food market, making them a controlling force regardless. Now McDonald’s definitely takes the cake when talking about worldwide food dominance. We mean, can you really go anywhere that doesn’t have at least one of these restaurants on one out of every four street corners? Of course we’re exaggerating a little bit, but still, we’d say that old Ronald McDonald and friends sure have quite the dominant presence in the food industry altogether. Here are some numbers to back this up … in recent years, it’s been reported that McDonald’s has made up to 22.3 billion dollars in sales per year. That was in a 2017/2018 estimate. Now we’d have to say that that’s pretty impressive. That’s just a lot food being purchased and sold. Now although they aren’t the top earners, we’d say that those numbers are pretty impressive for a business that doesn’t sell its goods in grocery stores like a lot of the other names on this list. With this much clout, McDonald’s definitely plays a role when it comes to food supply.
So no, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the food companies that bring food items from farm to grocery store yet. These are the big guns that have been called the top earners. But when it’s all said and done, no one can compare to Walmart in terms of sales for groceries … especially in the US. Walmart has the leading sales in so many departments of consumption, and it was only a matter of time before they started doing so in the food industry as well. (Funny how we placed Walmart just after McDonald’s eh? Especially considering that there’s a McDonald’s in almost every single Walmart in North America!) So, for so many municipalities across North America, Walmart didn’t even offer food for sale at all a decade or so ago, and for these particular regions, groceries were pretty much still quite the novelty. But, just as soon as people recognized that they could buy their electronics, furniture, clothes and now food too all under one roof, and for a decent price to boot, people all over North America started making Walmart their one stop shop for all their family and household needs. Good for the pocket and well … good for Walmart too. Or should we say especially good for Walmart? We think so. This fact alone has garnered the conglomerate a top spot in this category, and in doing so, Walmart became an influence in what neighborhoods as a whole were buying. By controlling the groceries offered in its store on such a large scale, they were also controlling North American grocery consumption. For example … if one Walmart location doesn’t have McCain french fries one week, then everybody must purchase Cavendish fries that week. This is an example of cause and effect, and the perfect way to show how the food you buy can be controlled.
It was once known as the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, but that was of course way back in 1866, a whopping 154 years ago. Now although none of us were alive way back then, we all know Nestle and all the goodies they’ve brought to light for one and all. The founder was Henri Nestle but the company has indeed changed hands many a time over the long years since its official launch. The headquarters are in Switzerland, but they serve the entire globe from there. Now there are an incredible number of products released under their large umbrella, and they are in fact one of the biggest grossing companies in the world. So yeah, here the numbers that matter. They hit 91.2 billion dollars in sales in the same pole taken back in 2017/2018 that registered McDonald’s at a mere 22.3 billion. Now on the surface it’s a pretty big difference, but at the same time, it’s all relative, as the late, great Albert Einstein once said. As Nestle also reaches the farthest corners of the planet, their advantage is they don’t have to exclusively count on restaurant locations to sell their products. So … to name a few products you might be familiar with that Nestle has control over: Nescafe, Taster’s Choice, Gerber, York, Boost, Wonka, Nestea, that is just naming a few. There are plenty more. The tip of an iceberg comes to mind. Nestle controls many of the brands many of us consume every single day.
7. The Kraft/Heinz Company
Likewise, Kraft also has dominance in worldwide food distribution. In that same poll, which was conducted by Forbes in 2017/2018, Kraft/Heinz ranks 126th overall out of 250 companies. But once again, rankings and earnings per year didn’t really come into play when it comes to food supply. Forbes summarizes some of the information for food processing companies. By its measure, Anheuser Busch, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top three. But interestingly enough, all three companies are nowhere near the top spot in overall revenue, all ranking below 40! Interestingly enough, the aforementioned Walmart ranked 24th on Forbes’ list with an astonishing 500.3 billion in registered sales for that year alone, which makes it the highest grossing company in food distribution … on this list or any other. By comparison, Kraft/Heinz did 26.2 billion dollars in sales. Now that’s a large number if you ask us. But, that doesn’t mean that Kraft doesn’t control the flow of food in North America and in a big way. Not at all. So to take a large step away from all the fractions, percentages and the stuff that you can’t ever seem to remember from math class, let’s put it as simply as possible for the sake of getting to the point (now we’ll need a bit of math here, but rounding off will be more than okay): essentially, try to imagine how many grilled cheese sandwiches are eaten per day all over North America. Now multiply that by the number of days in a week, the number of weeks in a month and so on. Now, finally (thank Heavens), try to picture Kraft Cheese Singles inside of each and every one of those grilled cheese sandwiches. Now that’s a lot of cheese, considering that a grilled cheese sandwich is one of the most popular comfort foods the world over. Now try to imagine cheeseburgers …. Well, you get the picture. The list can go on and on and on, and cheese isn’t even close to the only product Kraft/Heinz produces daily. So they’re definitely another company controlling the food supply.
Seeing that we just mentioned this company just a few moments ago, why not add it to this list? So yes, Forbes definitely considers this one a top 3, and they have more than sufficient reasons for it. Specifically, they’re one of the world’s leading beverage companies, particularly beer. Now you may not have heard of this company when perusing the shelves in the fridge at your corner store when looking for a cold one, but you certainly have heard of the companies that rest beneath the shade of its umbrella. Corona, Budweiser, Stella Artois and even InBev are all a part of this vast organization. Their head office is located in Belgium, and apparently their market value is registered at over $54 billion in sales annually. That’s a lot of yeast, hops and other ingredients. Chances are that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll be able to find an Anheuser-Busch product when looking to pop open a cold one.
And speaking of beer, who can mention this cold and refreshing beverage without thinking of the “Rocky Mountain High” slogan? The famous phrase for Coors beer rings true to our ears as we think of this brand, but in reality it’s manufactured quite far away from the actual Rocky Mountains. To be precise, it’s actually brewed in Montreal as well as in Vancouver, Moncton, St. Johns and Toronto; all with a head office in Chicago, Illinois. Molson itself was founded in 1786 in Canada, and Coors was founded in 1873, almost a hundred years later in the US. They eventually merged and became one company in 2005. Believe it or not, the company also makes energy drinks and spirits to boot. But at the end of it all, its main export is still beer. They employ almost 18 000 employees and raked in 4.87 billion in revenue way back in 2016. So we more than feel they have earned a place on this list, because for North American’s, this beer is indeed quite popular … which is an understatement if ever there was one. With multiple brands under the Molson/Coors banner, the company is so big that it’s able to influence the type of beer that the population drinks. They have big pull when it comes to distribution of their products in stores and other locations. At the end of the day, availability is the key to dominating what the public drinks or doesn’t drink. Between Molson/Coors and Anheuser-Busch, it doesn’t leave much shelf space for other brands – so the top two beer companies are truly controlling supply.
4. Mondelez International
This company was formerly known as Kraft Foods Inc. Of course, this isn’t to be confused with the aforementioned Kraft/Heinz; at least, not anymore. It was in 2012 that this company was formed using the name it has today, and perhaps the etymology of the name is as interesting as how powerful this company has become in such a short time. The name was coined by Kraft Food employees when the company was transitioning. Taken from the Latin Mundus, which means world, and Delez, which means Delicious. Pretty ingenious name if you ask us, especially for a company that focuses on bringing the world tasty treats. And bring the planet delicious treats, it most certainly has. They’re at the helm of many of the foods we all know and love. Some of their brands include: Chips Ahoy, Oreo, Ritz, Toblerone, and many, many others. And that’s not all. When the winter months hit and you feel like you’re suffering from a sore throat or cough, well the first thing you may do is reach for some cough drops. And if your brand of choice happens to be Halls, then guess what? You’ve just ingested a Mondelez product and you didn’t even know it. Their reach certainly goes far, and their power is definitely growing, making them quite the influential company when it comes to what we all consume from day to day. They also are the umbrella corporation that has control over Dad’s Cookies and Mr. Christie, which proves our point even more.
3. Associated British Foods
The British are not the only ones who love a cup if tea. Many people the whole world over love tea. And if you’re a coffee person, you just wouldn’t get it. But on a chilly winter’s day, there’s nothing quite like a hot tea. And there’s still tons of caffeine in tea, especially Orange Pekoe. So it’ll still wake you up … even on those especially difficult mornings. By now you may be wondering why exactly we’re going on and on about tea? Well … the Associated British Foods Company produces one of the biggest names in tea. And if you guessed the Twinings Tea brand, then you’d be right. Of course they produce and distribute other products – and a multitude at that. Their products include: Mazola Corn Oil, Fleischmann’s Yeast and many, many others. Although most of their products are sold in Europe, there are still quite a few that have made it across pond and are quite popular in North America as well.
2. Freedom Foods
Now it’s easy to have dominance over what people eat when you provide regular products that most people can consume. But what about specialty items? What about the companies out there that produce certain items that only particular members of the population can ingest? If you still came close to hitting the numbers that the big dogs garner by just selling specialty items, wouldn’t that mean that you’d be quite the influential company? Of course it would, and a company that can boast such success is Freedom Foods. It’s among others, like Hain Celestial Group and Dr. Schär, that provides gluten free and organic foods to the masses. And by the masses, we sure mean a heck of a lot of people, as so many out there are eating organic these days. This trend has really picked up steam over the last few decades. And ‘Gluten Free’ has become a way of life, and not just for those that are allergic to gluten. It’s part of the weight loss fad that caught on in recent years. So for a company that produces such foods exclusively to still be earning high numbers, we’d say that that’s pretty influential too.
Who can say Italian Cuisine without mentioning Saputo products? Maybe nobody, as these products are sold in over 40 countries worldwide. The headquarters are in Montreal and this company had a revenue of 11.2 billion in 2017! For a company that started quite small and grew over time, that’s pretty awe inspiring. You can’t walk into a grocery store without seeing Saputo products, especially in the cheese section. Their reach and influence is vast, and it goes way beyond food. Lino Saputo, the founder and owner of the company is considered to be the 8th richest person in Canada, and 339th in the world. He also owns a big portion of the Trans Force Trucking Company and has holdings in real estate too. Saputo sells many products in the United States, Canada and the rest of the world. Lino’s son, Joey, who also served as CEO for the Dairy Products Division in the States, also owns two soccer clubs. That’s right … not one, but two. He founded and owns the Montreal Impact in North America, and also owns Bologna Football Club in Italy. Overall, the family and company have given back to the community and give generously to selected charities in and around Montreal. Apparently just about half the portion of the company’s total revenues come from the business they do in the States. Now how’s that for influence? When it comes to cheese, Saputo has an impact on the world’s food supply.