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Monday, December 3, 2018

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

Poor Man Survival

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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.


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


Founded: 1911

2017 revenue: $35 billion

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


Founded: 1892

2017 revenue: $35.41 billion

Major brands: Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, Glaceau


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


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


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.


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Additional Resources

Your Free Middle Class Survival Kit


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!




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


Larry said...

It's just like banks, media, pharmaceuticals and everything else-the global elite control everything and as your excellent free ebook [the Washington-Wall Street Cartel] points out they are nothing more than cartels which run the planet and the government. They are, in my opinion the real Deep State.

Stephanie said...

Just like our freedoms which are continually eroded, our choices of consumption are becoming limited and controlled as well. Sort of like our choice of elections-no choice there either our county for instance, Democrats lost by a landslide but the snakes won the state due to union control of majority of our counties along with a plethora of welfare slugs who always vote Democrat in hopes of getting more handouts.

Gary said...

We've always suspected the New World Order revolved around an ever-tightening control and centralization of resources in the hands of a powerful elite and it seems headed that way ever faster...I believe in many respects these groups, perhaps under the guise of the IMF or World Bank call the shots on regional and world depressions as well, wars and other calamities but even they may no longer have any rabbits left to pull out of the hat.

Stephanie said...

You'd almost be remiss if you didn't include the government in this list. They nickel and dime all of us it is what keeps our family poor. Mostly it is the state government where we live, MI financially rapes its citizens each year with rate hikes for auto insurance [already the highest in the nation], auto registration fees, phone & cable fees [just had another hidden rate hike of $10 per month tucked into our bill with notice] property tax hikes, water bill hikes [already the highest in the Great Lakes region & more than our combined annual electric/gas bills]...they're real bastards when it comes to hammering the Middle Class & yet they deliver substandard roads and other "services."