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Monday, December 3, 2018

An Illusion of Choice-These 11 Companies Control Everything You Buy


Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


 

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

An Illusion of Choice-These 11 Companies Control Everything You Buy


The rapid rise of variation in everyday goods and services, from which cereal we eat in the morning to which toothpaste we brush our teeth with at night, gives the perception of unlimited choice. For example, if you’re deciding which bottled water to buy, the possibilities range from budget brands, like Deer Park or Ozarka, to higher-end options, like Perrier or S. Pellegrino. But this appearance of choice is actually manufactured. All of the aforementioned brands are owned by one company: Nestle.

Despite the amount of choices in the consumer market, several big companies own a large majority of major brands, effectively controlling everything you buy.

So, how much of “choice” is really controlled by big business, and how well do Americans understand which corporations have a stake in the goods and services they rely on every day? To find out, we took an in-depth look at the major companies that own a majority of America’s food and consumer goods. Then, we surveyed 3,000 Americans about their understanding of which big businesses own which major brands. Check out our full visual below, or skip ahead to see our survey findings.

These 11 Consumer Goods and Food Companies Control What You Buy…

Ceiling-high grocery store shelves may give the perception of endless options, but a closer look at the brands and the companies that own them reveal a complex interconnection. Check out our full visual above to get a better sense of just how intertwined some brands are, and read on to learn more about how well Americans understand this relationship.

Kellogg’s

Founded: 1906 (as Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company)

2017 revenue: $12.93 billion USD

Major brands: Cheez-It, Eggo, Famous Amos, Keebler, Town House

General Mills

Founded: 1928

2017 revenue: $15.62 billion USD

Major brands: Betty Crocker, Bisquick, Gold Medal, Cheerios, Chex

Kraft-Heinz Company

Founded: 2015 (merger between Kraft Foods Inc. and Heinz)

2017 revenue: $18.22 billion

Major brands: Heinz Ketchup, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Lunchables, Maxwell

Mondelez International

Founded: 2012 (spin-off of Kraft Foods Inc.)

2017 revenue: $25.9 billion

Major brands: Cadbury, Chips Ahoy!, Nabisco, Oreo

MARS

Founded: 1911

2017 revenue: $35 billion

Major brands: M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, Uncle Ben’s

Coca-Cola

Founded: 1892

2017 revenue: $35.41 billion

Major brands: Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, Glaceau

Unilever

Founded: 1929

2017 revenue: $62.62 billion

Major brands: Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike, Popsicle, Degree, Vaseline

Procter & Gamble

Founded: 1837

2017 revenue: $65.06 billion

Major brands: Pampers, Tide, Downy, Charmin, Gillette, Crest

PepsiCo

Founded: 1898

2017 revenue: $65.53 billion

Major brands: Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Quaker, Tropicana

Johnson & Johnson

Founded: 1886

2017 revenue: $76.45 billion

Major acquisitions: Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Band-Aid, Tylenol

Nestle

Founded: 1866

2017 revenue: $89.79 billion

Major brands: Toll House, Gerber, Poland Spring, Stouffer’s

Do Americans Know Which Major Companies Own Which Brands?

To get a better sense of whether Americans understand how the products they buy are influenced by big business, we surveyed 3,000 people about the different brands and their owners.

Major takeaways include:

>Americans can’t correctly identify the owners of major brands.

>Half of Americans are influenced by organic-sounding companies.

>54% of Americans think Honest Tea is owned by a tea company.

>Americans Can’t Correctly Identify the Owners of Major Brands

Across the board, Americans were unable to correctly identify the correct owners of major brands. Respondents came closest with Kashi, which 48 percent correctly identified as owned by Kellogg’s. Only 30 percent of respondents selected Coca-Cola as the correct owner of Honest Tea, and just 27 percent of respondents correctly chose General Mills as the owner of Annie’s Homegrown.

Nearly Half of Americans Think Health-Focused Brands Are Owned by Organic-Sounding Companies

In a result that shows the power of marketing, our study found that the majority of consumers believe brands marketed as health-conscious are owned by companies with a healthy or organic-sounding name.

For example, a combined 54 percent of Americans believe that Annie’s Homegrown, which touts itself as selling “nourishing foods that are good for the planet,” is owned by either Organic Valley (32 percent) or Nature’s Path (22 percent).

Neither Organic Valley or Nature’s Path are run by conventional food companies:  Organic Valley is comprised of an independent cooperative of organic farmers and Nature’s Path is family owned. Annie’s, however, is owned by food company General Mills, a fact that only 27 percent of respondents correctly identified.

Similarly, a combined 42 percent of Americans think Kashi, a food brand that promotes “simple, natural ingredients,” is owned by either Bear Naked (a granola brand owned by Kellogg’s) or Cascadian Farm (an organic brand owned by General Mills). A little less than half of respondents, 48 percent, correctly identified Kellogg’s as the owner of the Kashi brand.

54% of Americans Think Honest Tea is owned by a Tea Company

A combined 54 percent of respondents believe that Honest Tea, which describes itself as offering “truly healthy, organic beverages,” is owned by a tea company. Nestle, owner of Nestea, was chosen by 28 percent of respondents and Lipton, a British brand of tea owned by Unilever, was chosen by 26 percent. Only 30 percent of respondents correctly chose the Coca-Cola company as the brand’s owner.

Other Major Industries Controlled by Mega Corporations

Consumer goods brands aren’t the only ones controlled by major companies. There are a number of industries where major conglomerates own various brands, from media and movies studios to high-end beauty and luxury fashion.

So, do American consumers really have freedom of choice? With 11 billion-dollar consumer good and food companies controlling over 400 major brands, we may not have that many choices — but we certainly have the illusion of them.

Yours for a brighter season,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man!’

 

Final Notes…

 


A toxic combination of rising rates and lack of affordability in the housing market has home builders across the U.S. struggling.
 
“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer has some harsh words for the Federal Reserve whom he believes is “all but ignoring the damage.”

Has the Housing Bust 2.0 begun? If so, how bad could things get? And what steps should those looking to pick up values at much lower prices in the future be taking?

This week we talk with citizen journalist Ben Jones, property manager and publisher of TheHousingBubbleBlog -- where he tracks the latest headlines and developments in the housing market.


 
Food Storage Practices that Reduce Food Waste 
Attention to details could reduce your food bill by over $500!


The failure of both the Volt and the Cruze is instructive. The Volt was a very high-priced car that was heavily subsidized by government policies, both federal and state, favoring electric vehicles. Many thought its high-price tag doomed it, especially since the gas-powered Cruze was a very similar car at a lower price point. But neither achieved the expected sales. These were cars Americans did not want.


Looking at those charts, it was easy to single out the Fed as the culprit, since the Fed’s hawkishness had ignited the $USD which in turn put pressure on commodities.

However, what’s happening now is much bigger than just the Fed. Between June and August, two of the stock markets that are most closely aligned with global trade (South Korean and Germany) topped.


"There are hundreds of other stores that likely don't fit our vision for the future of Gap brand specialty store, whether in terms of profitability, customer experience, traffic trends," CEO Art Peck said Tuesday evening during a call with analysts. "The range from the very best to the very worst stores is extremely broad."


In Wednesday’s statement, Lars Petersson, Ikea’s manager for U.S. retail operations, said the company wants to “create the Ikea of the future by ... being more accessible and fully embracing technology.”
Ikea has known for some time that it needed to up its online game and be less dependent on its behemoth bricks-and-mortar stores.

 

Contributors and subscribers enable the Poor Man Survivor to post 150+ free essays annually. It is for this reason they are Heroes and Heroines of New Media. Without your financial support, the free content would disappear for the simple reason that I cannot keep body and soul together on my meager book sales & ecommerce alone.

 

Support Female Troops

If you have full-sized unopened bottles of shampoo or conditioner, send them to Operation Courage is Beautiful [OperationCourage.org] This nonprofit will send them to female service members serving abroad:  9921 Carmel Mountain Rd., San Diego, CA 92129

Help Troops Stay Healthy

If you can spare travel-size tubs of antibiotic ointment or bandages, send them to the Long Island Blue Star Mothers [BlueStarMothersNY6.org].  They’ll include them in care packages sent abroad. Mail to: Chapter President LIBSM NY6 c/o Carol Ruane, 193 Glen Dr., Ridge, NY 11961

How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster…


 


·         Special Offer for our Readers

 72-hour Emergency Meal kit that's being offered contains 16 total servings of such delicious meals as Blue Ribbon Creamy Chicken Rice, the always-loved Granny's Homestyle Potato Soup and the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast favorite Maple Grove Oatmeal.

This kit normally sells for $27, plus shipping and handling and is rated 4½ out of five stars by customers.

While supplies last, these kits are available for only $21.95 and that includes Priority Shipping [we were forced to increase prices due to another round of USPS price hikes]. Go here for this deal:


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Additional Resources


Your Free Middle Class Survival Kit

SAVE & MAKE Money

Researched by our editors and include 100s of tips, tricks and insider methods of saving money, earning extra money [many from the comfort of your home], the best places to live,  How to find little-known freebies, discounts and other benefits-over 2,000 programs!


 

or…


 

How to Survive the War on the Middle Class

14 of the best reports I’ve assembled on protecting your freedom-Download link.


 



 


 

A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Does GM's Restructuring Equal Economic Panic?


Poor Man Survival

Self Reliance tools for independent minded people…


 

ISSN 2161-5543

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

 


GM announced it would kill several passenger cars that weren't performing well. Included: the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze – Americans  like oversized SUVs & big trucks - despite many being upside down in 72 month loans…

America’s twin economic “generals” are both in very deep trouble.  General Electric was founded in 1892, and it was once one of the most powerful corporations on the entire planet.  But now it is drowning in so much debt that it may be forced into bankruptcy.  General Motors was founded in 1908, and at one time it was the largest automaker that the world had ever seen.  But now it is closing a bunch of factories and laying off approximately 14,000 workers as it anticipates disappointing sales and a slowing economy.

Our local news in MI interviewed a few of GMs factory workers after this announcement and of course the reaction was predictable.  Despite receiving the biggest bonus payout in history this year [some as high as $10,000] many of these union workers had already blown through their bonus cash and expressed huge dismay and concern over their coming job loss as few had socked away any money.

GM workers say they had 'no warning' of closure


Despite being given ample opportunity for early buy-out or retirements!

I grew up across the state line in Ohio but most of my relatives lived in MI and worked for the Big Three and experience the boom and bust times of working on assembly lines.  It was common to see such workers going into deep debt buying all sorts of toys including boats, snow mobiles, jetskiis, cabins and the like.  In the early years layoffs were almost welcome as workers not only received unemployment compensation but sub-pay through the union so in many cases they “earned’ almost the same wage for doing nothing…like a paid vacation and many were happy with that arrangement.
Union wages at the Big Three were the envy of working world, especially the health care and retirement packages which often exceeded even government workers!
Many said GM has been mismanaged for decades and the Obama should never have bailed it out using taxpayer funds [he forgave GM its last billion or so]…

GM’s “restructuring” is actually going to cost the firm 3.8 billion dollars

General Motors said Monday it plans to effectively halt production at a number of plants in the U.S. and Canada next year and cut more than 14,000 jobs in a massive restructuring that will cost up to $3.8 billion…management had been asking for voluntary layoffs for months to the rank and file but few took them up on the generous offers GM made choosing instead to wait and get the axe.

Of course GM doesn’t have 3.8 billion dollars just lying around, and so they are actually going to have to borrow money in order to close these plants and lay off these workers.

Needless to say, President Trump is not very happy with General Motors right now…

Trump said he spoke Monday with GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, and ‘I told them, “you’re playing around with the wrong person”.’

He told reporters as he left the White House for a pair of political rallies in Mississippi that the United States ‘has done a lot for General Motors. They better get back to Ohio, and soon.’

There is no way that Mary Barra should have ever been made CEO of General Motors, and now the entire world is getting to see why.

In addition to the elimination of about 6,000 factory jobs, GM will also be cutting about 8,000 “white collar jobs”

Did General Motors really have to announce job cuts just before the holidays?  According to the Daily Mail, some workers were seen wiping away tears when the layoffs were announced…

Heart-wrenching photos show General Motors workers wiping tears away after the company laid more than 14,000 people off without warning and just before the holidays…workers were given the option to take early retirement with six months of benefits and pay if they had 12 years of employment as far back as January of this year after being given record high bonus checks [which most promptly spent].

In a massive restructuring, the auto giant announced Monday that it will cut 15 percent of its workforce to save $6 billion and adapt to ‘changing market conditions’.

‘You’re going right into Christmas. You’re looking for celebration and that’s not there now,’ one GM worker told Today.

 
In addition to the production cuts, GM said it will reduce its North American white-collar workforce by about 8,000. The deadline passed last week on a voluntary buyout for those workers, and GM spokesman Pat Morrissey told the Free Press that only 2,250 employees have asked to take the offer, meaning as many as 5,750 workers could be cut if the company keeps to its announced total. Analysts told the Free Press to expect involuntary cuts in January.

So why is General Motors doing this?

After all, if the U.S. economy really is “booming” that should mean increased sales for all of the major automakers in the coming years, right?

Unfortunately, the truth is that hard times are already here for automakers.  In fact, Bob Lutz told CNBC that “we’ve got a demand problem on cars”…

Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the automaker historically would have raised sales incentives to try to sell more cars before resorting to plant closures.

“Nowadays GM looks at the hard reality, says we’ve got a demand problem on cars, what are we going to do about it. We have to shut some facilities and move production to truck plants,” Lutz said on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. ” “So I think what we are seeing is a fast-acting and reality-oriented GM management.”

Over the past four years, General Motors spent a staggering 13.9 billion dollars on stock buybacks.

GM executives were able to prop up the stock price for a while, but at this point the stock is down about 10 percent from where it was four years ago.  The following comes from Wolf Richter

During this four-year period in which GM blew, wasted, and annihilated nearly $14 billion on share buybacks, the price of its shares, including today’s 5.5% surge – getting rid of workers is always good news for shares – fell 10%.

These stock buybacks are a massive Ponzi scheme, and everyone that was involved in blowing such a giant mountain of cash at GM should be fired.

And now thousands of hard working Americans are going to lose their jobs, but it didn’t have to happen.

General Electric has also been victimized by the exact same Ponzi scheme, and at this point they are in a struggle for survival which they are probably going to lose.

On Monday the stock slid another couple of percent, and so far this year it is down a total of 58 percent

Not a day passes lately without GE stock getting hit by some unexpected development, and today was no exception.

GE shares, which are down 58% YTD, dropped over 2% on Monday, after sliding as much as 4.1% earlier in the session and approaching its financial crisis low of $6.66, following a research report by Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch which prompted fresh questions about the treatment of goodwill at GE Capital.

In the end, GE is probably heading for total collapse. GE is a horrible firm that began the massive offshoring of US jobs back in the mid-1980s [I wrote about the folly of this action in my business journals back then and some scoffed saying it was only temporary…]
 
 

But if GE had not blown 40 billion dollars on stock buybacks in recent years, they would be in far, far better shape.  The following comes from the Marketwatch article …

GE was one of Wall Street’s major share buyback operators between 2015 and 2017; it repurchased $40 billion of shares at prices between $20 and $32. The share price is now $8.60, so the company has liquidated between $23 billion and $29 billion of its shareholders’ money on this utterly futile activity alone. Since the highest net income recorded by the company during those years was $8.8 billion in 2016, with 2015 and 2017 recording a loss, it has managed to lose more on its share repurchases during those three years than it made in operations, by a substantial margin.

Even more important, GE has now left itself with minus $48 billion in tangible net worth at Sept. 30, with actual genuine tangible debt of close to $100 billion. As the new CEO Larry Culp told CNBC last Monday: “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down.”

Combined, General Electric and General Motors have blown more than 53 billion dollars on stock buybacks, and now both companies are in huge trouble.

The executives that gutted the finances of both firms by engaging in these sorts of Ponzi tactics should all be fired and should never be hired by anyone else in the corporate world.

For years, big corporations have been borrowing massive amounts of money to fund reckless stock buybacks, and that has helped to fuel an amazing bull market run.

But now the game is imploding, and the unraveling of this massive Ponzi scheme is not going to be pretty.
 
 

AND TAKE NOTE ABOUT WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE ECONOMY:

Economic panic is a very useful tool in the hands of the banking elites for molding social conditions in a way that gives them greater psychological power over the public. In every instance of financial catastrophe, it is the banking cabal that is asked to step in and save the day. In 2008 it was the Federal Reserve that was tapped to act as a hero to the mainstream, and only through the tireless efforts of alternative economists and liberty activists has this fallacy been exposed to some in the population.

In the next crisis, it will be the IMF that is used as the front organization for the next rescue as market collapse leads into a crisis in confidence in the U.S. dollar. I outlined the plan for this in my recent article 'IMF Reveals That Cryptocurrency Is The New World Order End Game.'

The average person is completely unaware of the Hegelian con-game being played here. And, when banking institutions step in as the designated "caregivers" to the ailing economy, what we sometimes see is a kind of reverse Florence Nightingale effect, in which the patients fall in love with the nurse merely because they have associated the extension of economic function to an extension of their lives (or at least, an extension of comfort in their lives).

The next engineered crash is shaping up to become the most epic in history, and make no mistake, it has already started. Even now mindless optimism and blind faith in the markets continues, and the assumption on the part of the investment world is that the banks will eventually be forced to admit their "policy error" on tightening and that they will revert back to lower rates or even more QE. This is not going to happen.

Hopium sellers have been peddling several scenarios lately in which the current downtrend in markets will stop and the bull rally party rekindled. The three most pervasive are...

Scenario #1: The Fed suddenly skips rate hikes in the near term under pressure from markets and the White House.

Scenario #2: The Fed fully admits to policy error in light of stock market declines and re-launches QE.

Scenario #3: Trump announces successful trade war negotiations, primarily with China, and ends tariff measures.

Today, Jerome Powell is taking the exact actions in policy that he originally stated would cause a crash. Powell is not tightening out of stupidity, nor is he tightening out of a misguided error in policy. Powell is tightening because the banking elites want a crash. Period.

Because of this, it is highly unlikely that the Fed will stop tightening measures, let alone reverse them. The Fed does not care about "pressure" from markets, or pressure from the White House

The Fed will continue hiking up to the neutral rate of inflation, and probably well beyond that into 2019. This is exactly what they did during the Great Depression to escalate the crisis, and it is exactly what they will do today.

Trump's trade war rhetoric is now the only lever that can be pulled to stall the market landslide. But it appears that this stalling is meant to make the crash more manageable, not stop it from happening. Trump will jawbone markets up at times, but overall there will be no progression in negotiations. The trade war will eventually escalate to include threats to U.S. bond markets and the dollar itself.

 
Get my free ebook and related materials about the Washington-Wall Street Cartel and how they screw Middle Class America below…

Yours for a brighter season,

Bruce ‘the Poor Man!’

Final Notes…
 

We are living at a time when everything is in a bubble – the current housing bubble is much larger than the one that collapsed in 2008, student loan debt has now surpassed the 1.5 trillion dollar mark, corporate debt has doubled since the last financial crisis, U.S. consumers are 13 trillion dollars in debt and the federal government is nearly 22 trillion dollars in debt.  And even though stock prices have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, the truth is that stocks are still wildly overpriced.  

A stunning new study that was just released came to the conclusion that the globe is heading for “a massive worldwide financial meltdown”that will be unlike anything that we have ever experienced before…

Previous crashes will appear as “minor stumbling blocks” in comparison to what nuclear scientists are predicting as a massive worldwide financial meltdown “such as never before” in the mid-2020s. Analysts from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krak√≥w are forecasting the future of the global economy as “extremely bleak” as “nervousness of the world market is growing all the time”. The academics’ “catastrophic” predictions come from “multi-fractal” analysis of financial markets published in the journal Complexity. The researchers looked at various economic measures, including Standard & Poor’s 500 index – the largest global stock market index including the largest 500 firms, largely of a worldwide nature – from January 1950 to December 2016.

 

Contributors and subscribers enable the Poor Man Survivor to post 150+ free essays annually. It is for this reason they are Heroes and Heroines of New Media. Without your financial support, the free content would disappear for the simple reason that I cannot keep body and soul together on my meager book sales & ecommerce alone.

 

 (More) Forever Foods for Your Prepper Pantry
 

 


·         Special Offer for our Readers

 72-hour Emergency Meal kit that's being offered contains 16 total servings of such delicious meals as Blue Ribbon Creamy Chicken Rice, the always-loved Granny's Homestyle Potato Soup and the stick-to-your-ribs breakfast favorite Maple Grove Oatmeal.

This kit normally sells for $27, plus shipping and handling and is rated 4½ out of five stars by customers.

While supplies last, these kits are available for only $21.95 and that includes Priority Shipping [we were forced to increase prices due to another round of USPS price hikes]. Go here for this deal:


Support our efforts by shopping my storefront…


 

 

Additional Resources

 
Your Free Middle Class Survival Kit

SAVE & MAKE Money

Researched by our editors and include 100s of tips, tricks and insider methods of saving money, earning extra money [many from the comfort of your home], the best places to live,  How to find little-known freebies, discounts and other benefits-over 2,000 programs!


 

or…


 


 

How to Survive the War on the Middle Class


14 of the best reports I’ve assembled on protecting your freedom-Download link.


 

 


 


 

A Smoking Frog Feature, Shallow Planet Production