Corporate Organic Brands

Organic2013
Click image to enlarge; this graphic is courtesy of Philip H. Howard, Associate Professor in Michigan State University’s Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies program, and was updated in May 2013.

Anyone attempting to avoid GMOs knows how important it is to choose organic. However, it’s also important to know that not all organic brands are created equal…

Many organic brands were originally founded by individuals and families for all the right reasons, but at some point in their history, they were bought out by a major manufacturer like Kelloggs or Nestlé or Dean Foods.

Sometimes standards were maintained after the purchase; sometimes subtle shifts began to take place–in the ingredients, sources, quality, or business practices (e.g., when Dean Foods quietly rebranded “organic” Silk soymilk as “natural” to enable them to source non-organic soybeans).

Other organic brands were simply founded by a major food manufacturing corporation in an attempt to “get a piece of the organic consumer pie.”

What’s the take-away from this?

1) Many of the organic brands you’ve come to trust are actually corporate-owned.

2) A corporate-owned brand does not necessarily mean its organic line is any less in terms of quality. As in all products, the onus is on you, the consumer, to investigate the corporation (and product) carefully to decide whether their standards meet your expectations and personal philosophy in terms of product quality, corporate integrity, and the support of locally-owned businesses.

3) Organic brands owned by corporations (such as Silk soymilk, which is owned by Dean Foods International) often have no say in how their parent corporation makes decisions (Dean Foods International contributed over $250,000 to fight the 2012 GMO labeling effort in California). For this reason, many consumers have chosen to boycott these brands, knowing their consumer dollars are ultimately going towards a corporation that does not uphold their values.

4) If you want to support family- or privately-owned organic brands, here’s a page full of recommended brands.

List of Organic Brands Owned by Major Food Corporations

The following table is a list of organic companies owned by major corporations. This list is always changing; it currently does not include private labels such as Walmart’s Great Value or Target’s Archer Farms brands.

Brand/Company Owned By Year
Aidell’s Sausage Hillshire Brands (formerly Sara Lee) 2011
Alexia Foods ConAgra 2007
Alta Dena Dean 1999
Arrowhead Mills Hain Celestial 1998
Back To Nature Kraft 2003
Bearitos Hain Celestial 1997
Bear Naked Kellogg 2007
Ben & Jerry’s Organic Unilever 2003
Boca Foods Kraft 2000
Bolthouse Farms Campbell Soup 2012
Breadshop Hain Celestial 1999
Breyer’s Organic Unilever 2006
Brown Cow Dannon/Danone 2003
Campbell’s Organic Campbell Soup 2003
Casbah Hain Celestial 1999
Cascadian Farm General Mills 1999
Coleman Natural Purdue Farms 2011
Dagoba Hershey Foods 2006
DeBole’s Hain Celestial 1998
DiGiorno Organic Kraft 2006
Dole Organic Dole 2001
Dove Organic M&M Mars 2006
Draper Valley Purdue Farms 2007
Earth’s Best Hain Celestial 1999
Ella’s Kitchen Hain Celestial 2013
Food Should Taste Good General Mills 2012
French Meadow Rich Products Corp. 2007
Fruitti de Bosco Walnut Acres 2001
Garden of Eatin Hain Celestial 1998
Gold Medal Organic General Mills 2005
Golden Temple Post / Hearthside 2011
Green & Black’s Cadbury Schweppes 2005
Happy Family Dannon/Danone 2013
Health Valley Hain Celestial 1999
Heinz Organic Heinz 2002
Hershey Organic Hershey Foods 2007
Honest Tea Coca Cola (40% stake) 2008
Horizon Organic Dean 2004
Humboldt Creamery Foster Farms 2009
Hunt’s Organic ConAgra 2005
Imagine Hain Celestial 2002
Kashi Kellogg 2000
Keebler Organic Kellogg 2006
Kellogg’s Organic Kellogg 2006
Kettle (chips, etc.) Diamond Foods 2010
Knudsen, R.W. J.M. Smucker 1984
Kraft Organic Kraft 2008
Larabar General Mills 2008
Late July Snyders (minority stake) 2007
Lightlife ConAgra 2000
Maranatha Hain Celestial 2008
Millina’s Finest Walnut Acres 2001
Millstone J.M. Smucker 2008
Morningstar Farms Kellogg 1999
Mott’s Organic Cadbury Schweppes 2004
Mountain Sun Hain Celestial / Walnut Acres 2001
Muir Glen Cascadian Farm 1998
Nabisco Organic Kraft 2007
Naked Juice Pepsi 2008
Nantucket Nectars Organic Cadbury Schweppes 2004
Natural Touch Kellogg 1999
Nature’s Farm Tyson 2001
Nile Spice Hain Celestial 1998
Odwalla Coca Cola 2001
Organic Cow of Vermont Horizon 1999
Orville Redenbacher’s Organic ConAgra 2005
Pace Organic Campbell’s 2005
PAM Organic ConAgra 2006
Peace Cereal Post / Hearthside 2011
Peet’s Coffee & Tea Sara Lee / JAB / D.E. Master Blenders 2011
Planters Organic Kraft 2007
PowerBar Nestle 2006
Prego Organic Campbell’s 2005
Pria Grain Essentials Nestle 2006
Ragu Organic Unilever 2005
Rice Dream (Imagine) Hain Celestial 2002
Santa Cruz Organic J.M. Smucker Co. 1989
Seeds of Change M&M Mars 1997
ShariAnn’s Walnut Acres 2001
Silk Dean 2002
Soy Dream (Imagine) Hain Celestial 2002
Spectrum Organics Hain Celestial 2005
Stone Mill Anhueser-Busch 2006
Stonyfield Dannon/Danone 2001-2004
SunSpire Hain Celestial 2008
Swansons Organic Campbell’s 2005
Tostito’s Organic Pepsi 2003
Tropicana Organic Pepsi 2007
V8 Organic Campbell’s 2005
Walnut Acres Hain Celestial 2003
Westbrae Hain Celestial 1997
Westsoy Hain Celestial 1997
White Wave Dean 2002
Wholesome & Hearty Kellogg 2007
Wild Hop Anhueser-Busch 2006
Willamette Valley Granola Post / Hearthside 2011
Wolfgang Puck Campbell Soup 2008

Beyond Food…

If you’d like to identify non-food brands that are owned by major corporations, this website provides an extensive list.

A Note About Hain Celestial

Hain Celestial is another one of the mega-corporations in the food industry, and they are responsible for a number of well-known organic brands, including WestSoy, Rice Dream / Almond Dream / Soy Dream, Arrowhead Mills, and Celestial Seasonsings teas. They were partially owned by Nestlé for a few years, and had a former product development agreement with Cargill. Currently there is no evidence to show any alliance with “dirty” food corporations, nor have they taken a public pro-GMO stance—unlike many of the corporations shown above, they did NOT donate to oppose California’s GMO Labeling proposition. The only questionable information that can be cited about Hain is that when they are asked about the canola oil used in their chips, they have a carefully scripted answer that says they cannot guarantee their products are GMO free. (Though even the Non-GMO Project uses a similar statement about their certified products). For this reason, along with their size, and past industry relationships, there is some  doubt about their overall integrity as an organic food company.


© GMO-Awareness.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to GMO-Awareness.com with appropriate and specific links back to the original content.

5 thoughts on “Corporate Organic Brands

  1. Pingback: Non-GMO Product Spotlight – Annie’s Homegrown « GMO Awareness

    • If the item has either a USDA Organic (round) label on it, or a Non-GMO Project certified (square) label on it, then yes. Remember, your purchasing dollars trickle upstream… Campbell’s has long opposed (and donated money to fight) GMO labeling.

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