Is Annie’s Selling Out To General Mills Such a Bad Thing?

natural health brands companies owned large corporations Shells_White_Cheddar_Front

In the wake of Annie’s Homegrown being bought out by General Mills, I thought you would find some of the owners of these other popular “natural” brands interesting.



• Stonyfield Farms is owned by Dannon

• Tom’s of Maine, a popular line of natural toiletries, is owned by Colgate-Palmolive

• Mrs. Meyers Clean Day is owned by SC Johnson

• Kashi is owned by Kellogg’s

• Naked Juice is owned by PepsiCo

• Odwalla is owned by Coca-Cola

• Bear Naked granola is owned by the Kellogg’s

Brace yourself (and I am not certain of the 100% accuracy of this image, but you get the idea):

natural health brands companies owned large corporations


I can understand the uproar that has occurred and Annie’s being accused of selling out, as we love  Annie’s Mac and Cheese at our house. I hate to see an amazing company with quality ingredients being sold to the likes of a GMO promoting company such as General Mills. I like to look at this situation a little differently though. I see that there is opportunity here for more affordable organic and GMO free products on our shelves, and also that a company such as Annie’s can teach General Mills a thing or two.



burt's burts bees clorox lip balm all natural healthy burts bees lip balm chapstick

We can only hope, but let’s take a look at what happened when Clorox bought out Burt’s Bees in 2007. That collaboration has made the Clorox company better on many fronts. “Collaboration between the Clorox and Burt’s R&D departments has also helped make Burt’s products more natural. Paula Alexander, director of sustainable business and innovation at Burt’s, reports: “From 2009 to 2012, we went from the average product being 97% natural to the average product being 99% natural.” “Burt’s Bees and Clorox have proved the sceptics wrong. The acquisition has catalysed positive change throughout the value chain, from R&D, to sourcing, to waste management.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am just going to assume that there are aspects that are not ideal that were also introduced with this Clorox and Burt’s Bees union and not every product is perfect, but I have to wonder if the pros outweigh the cons. To have a mega-company hook up with a smaller company that is ethically run, cares about the environment, and uses only high quality, healthy ingredients in its products, might not be such a bad thing after all. Time will tell, and our dollars should continue to go to the better quality products available, despite the owners.


“NATURAL” IS THE NEW BLACK, A TREND THAT IS HERE TO STAY states, “Healthy eating is not going away, folks. It might take another 20 years for nutrition experts to convince us, but it’s going to happen.” “When the market went into the tank in late 2008, investors feared the worst about the healthy food industry. We assumed consumers would balk at higher prices and find cheaper alternatives, then having done that, they would never switch back. Wrong. Instead, consumers adjusted their budgets to ensure they continued eating right. While the segment of America that exclusively shops at Whole Foods is tiny, it has become increasingly clear that America is tired of being the fat kid on the block.”

According to a March 2014 article on Fox News, “At the recent Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, Calif., approximately 68,000 people gathered to showcase new products, foster business relationships and forecast trends. Entirely populated by those making, selling, buying or working with natural products, the Expo gave a clear picture of emerging trends in the industry.  Sustainability is a driving force among many manufacturers of foods, supplements and cosmetics, and products produced in a sustainable manner are being placed front and center. Certified organic foods continue to grow as a category, and fair wage practices are an increasing focus as companies grapple with the reality of sourcing natural ingredients provided by impoverished workers in undeveloped countries.”

“Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were the subject of several seminars and initiatives aimed at both requiring labeling of GMO foods and achieving bans of GMO’s in foods. Scientists, medical doctors, politicians and representatives of some large corporations led panels aimed at educating the trade about the hazards of genetically modified crops. Numerous doctors, and particularly pediatricians, described apparent links between consumption of GMO’s and allergies, bowel diseases, gluten intolerance, and childhood neurological disorders. The fact that GMO’s undergo no testing for safety prior to FDA approval added fuel to the anti-GMO fire.”



Big companies are well aware of the growing trend and demand for healthier products, especially since it is affecting their bottom line if they do not make the changes that their competitors are making (which is why they are fighting hard against GMO labeling). In order to succeed, they must adapt and change and I think we need to support the products that meet our standards of quality and safety, despite the owner of the company.

According to an article in Forbes way back in 2012 (and we have seen this to be true), “2013 will be a transitional year as on-package claims proliferate and confuse. Look as supermarkets take on the role of gatekeeper and actually demand proof and transparency of claims before they will permit products to be sold on their shelves. Consumers are reading labels, and selecting their foods more holistically based on all the ‘food factors’ including taste, ingredients, source and nutritional composition, as well as who is making their food.”

Call me a glass half full kind of girl, but I like to think that we are making progress.

The following was written to me from Annie’s Homegrown on twitter, “@Wholesomestyle Thank you for your balanced and supportive point-of-view. “We are making progress,” we couldn’t agree with you more.”

Be sure to like me on Facebook and also subscribe to never miss a post! (Both options are located towards the top right column of this page).

468 ad