It seems that just when we’ve begun to believe that an indie food brand can actually hang with the big boys, the talons of big industry come swooping down to steal it for themselves. That’s precisely what happened recently, when the well-known but still relatively small health food and organic brand, Annie’s, was taken over by General Mills.
It feels a bit like a betrayal. Those of us who are health-conscious put a lot of faith in the small, owner-directed destiny and ethics of companies like Annie’s. We expect them to hold their own and stick up for the consumer when it comes to honest ingredients on the supermarket.
The flipside, however, is wondering if this acquisition could be another strong sign of changing times. The fact that a huge corporation like General Mills is listening to the consumer’s call for more organic healthy foods and wants to participate in that process (albeit for monetary gains), means that our message is getting across, right?
The Wall Street Journal points out that although regular packaged food sales have been sluggish as of late, (partly due to the downtrodden economy) food corporations have seen the growth potential in the health food market. The article goes on to cite Jeff Harmening, General Mills chief operating officer as saying…
…sales of organic and natural foods, by contrast, have been growing at a 12% compound rate over the past 10 years.”
Then there’s the idea that just because Annie’s was acquired by a large company, doesn’t mean it has to lose its independent ideals. As an article written in, Quartz points out.
…if recent experience is any judge, teaming up with bigger companies offers niche brands more growth potential, often without compromising the quality of their product.”
The article goes on to list examples such as, Burts Bees, Larabar, and Ben and Jerry’s, all of which seem to have retained their independent spirit, so to speak.
In the end it remains to be seen what will happen to Annie’s. We will certainly keep our eyes open and our fingers crossed.
- Why Annie’s won’t suffer from its acquisition by General Mills via Quartz
- General Mills to Buy Natural Foods Company Annie's via The Wall Street Journal
Read all articles by Juniper Briggs