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 January 2016.
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.
|Aidell’s Sausage||Hillshire Brands (formerly Sara Lee)||2011|
|Alta Dena||Dean Int’l.||1999|
|Annie’s Naturals||General Mills||2014|
|Arrowhead Mills||Hain Celestial||1998|
|Attune (Erewhon Cereals, etc.)||Post Foods||2013|
|Back To Nature||Heinz / Kraft (merged 2015)||2003|
|Barbara’s *note||Wheatabix Food Co.||1986|
|Ben & Jerry’s Organic||Unilever||2003|
|Blue Sky Soda/td>||Coca Cola||2015|
|Boca Foods||Heinz / Kraft (merged 2015)||2000|
|Bolthouse Farms||Campbell Soup||2012|
|Campbell’s Organic||Campbell Soup||2003|
|Cascadian Farm||General Mills||1999|
|Coleman Natural||Purdue Farms||2011|
|Dave’s Killer Bread||Flower Foods||2015|
|DiGiorno Organic||Heinz / Kraft (merged 2015)||2006|
|Dove Organic||M&M Mars||2006|
|Draper Valley||Purdue Farms||2007|
|Earthbound Farm||WhiteWave (Dean Int’l.)||2013|
|Earth’s Best||Hain Celestial||1999|
|Ella’s Kitchen||Hain Celestial||2013|
|Erewhon (see Attune)||Post Foods||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|
|Gerber Organic Baby Food||Nestle||2007|
|Gold Medal Organic||General Mills||2005|
|Golden Temple||Post / Hearthside||2011|
|Green & Black’s||Cadbury Schweppes||2005|
|Happy Baby Organic Baby Food||Dannon/Danone||2013|
|Health Valley||Hain Celestial||1999|
|Heinz Organic||Heinz / Kraft (merged 2015)||2002|
|Hershey Organic||Hershey Foods||2007|
|Honest Tea||Coca Cola (40% stake)||2008|
|Humboldt Creamery||Foster Farms||2009|
|Kettle (chips, etc.)||Diamond Foods||2010|
|Knudsen, R.W.||J.M. Smucker||1984|
|Kraft Organic||Heinz / Kraft (merged 2015)||2008|
|Late July||Snyders (minority stake)||2007|
|Millina’s Finest||Walnut Acres||2001|
|Mott’s Organic||Cadbury Schweppes||2004|
|Mountain Sun||Hain Celestial / Walnut Acres||2001|
|Muir Glen||Cascadian Farm||1998|
|Nantucket Nectars Organic||Cadbury Schweppes||2004|
|Nile Spice||Hain Celestial||1998|
|Organic Cow of Vermont||Horizon||1999|
|Orville Redenbacher’s Organic||ConAgra||2005|
|Peace Cereal||Post / Hearthside||2011|
|Peet’s Coffee & Tea||Sara Lee / JAB / D.E. Master Blenders||2011|
|Plum Organic Baby Food||Campbells||2013|
|Pria Grain Essentials||Nestle||2006|
|Rice Dream (Imagine)||Hain Celestial||2002|
|Rudi’s Bakery (Imagine)||Hain Celestial||2014|
|Santa Cruz Organic||J.M. Smucker Co.||1989|
|Seeds of Change||M&M Mars||1997|
|Silk||White Wave Foods*||2013|
|Similac Organic Infant Formula||Abbott Nutrition||1950s|
|Soy Dream (Imagine)||Hain Celestial||2002|
|Spectrum Organics||Hain Celestial||2005|
|Van’s *note||Hillshire Farms||2014|
|Walnut Acres||Hain Celestial||2003|
|Wholesome & Hearty||Kellogg||2007|
|Wholesome Sweeteners *note||Arlon Group||2012|
|Willamette Valley Granola||Post / Hearthside||2011|
|Wolfgang Puck Soup||Campbell Soup||2008|
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.
*White Wave Foods (parent company of Silk Soymilk) separated from Dean Foods in 2013.
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Why are you putting Hain Celestial on this list?
Hain is included in the graphic because they were once partially owned by the J.M. Heinz Company. Although Heinz divested these shares in 2005, Hain still maintains a strategic product development alliance with Cargill, which some believe is a conflict of interest. Read more about Hain here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hain_Celestial_Group
Cargill is purre evil!!!
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Are Bolthouse Farms products GMO-free. I see that Campbell’s acquired them in 2012.
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.
I know for a fact that Wolfgang Puck’s Organic soup made by Campbell’s is NOT GMO free. I purchased some the other night and had a long conversation with the company and I pointed out items which I know are not organic nor non gmo. To be honest with you, I knew more about the ingredients then they did. I am staying away from it and never buying Campbell’s again. Also, just as a note Kashi Go Lean Berry Crunch is also on the no-no list along with Annie’s Cinnamon Graham cookies, along with their salad dressings. Quaker Oats has spent millions upon millions of dollars fighting labeling their products. Never eating Quaker Oats again or anything that Quaker makes.
Thank you so much Cindy Flishman I am opposed to can foods. *Since I was a kid they tasted odd . I am happy to read tested research …My children’s future Children than you
sorry, but i do not understand this list? is this a list of companies that are are GMO free or NOT? thanks
Hello… sorry the top half of this page is so long to read, but that should explain your question? If a brand has USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project certified label on it, it is GMO-free. This page lists brands that are organic/GMO-Free *but also* owned by a major corporation that *fights* your right to know about GMOs. Technically speaking, the products are what you want, but purchasing them means your dollars “trickle upstream” to a corporation who continues to oppose GMO labeling.
Wow thanks for the break down
Is dano milk for kids from puck company is GMO I just knew that nido milk from nestle is GMO and I want to change it thx
Good question. We’ve done some research and can find no definitive answers. As you may already know, Dano is a brand of Puck, which is a subsidiary of Arla, a “farmer-owned dairy company” that has sold its organic line of products in Scandinavia “for decades.” Here’s our take: if the milk label includes a USDA Organic and/or Non-GMO Project certification emblem, that’s about the best assurance we can have in the U.S. for non-GMO. 🙂
Hello, Can you please add Baby formula/food Brands that are affiliated with some of these large companies to this list please. Such as:
Gerber – owned by Nestle
Plum – owned by Cambell soup
Similac – owned by Abbot Nutrition
Happy Baby – owned by Danone
Great idea, thank you… adding now!
This list and everything on this site is very thorough, but it seems like everything on here is from two years ago. There’s an article on the home page but even that was from six months ago. Is there no recent news? Are this list and other lists continuing to be updated over the years?
We update our resource lists regularly; if you are looking for more breaking / brief news, we recommend you follow our Facebook page. We tend to post “the big news” events on this blog, however we’ve had less available time for doing so over the past few months, as we were asked to work with Rachel Parent of http://www.kidsrighttoknow.com in Canada to help her with her website, print materials, social media graphics, articles, and even her TEDx speech (something we were extremely honored to do). 🙂
Could you please tell me where the ‘Wild Oats’ brand stands on 100% Organic and Non-GMO verified
We’ve addressed the Wild Oats brand on this page, sorry for any confusion! https://gmo-awareness.com/shopping-list/gmo-free-brands/
Just because a product has Non-GMO certified on the label doesn’t mean that its wheat, soy, oats, rice, canola or any other grains weren’t sprayed with Roundup when ready to harvest to speed up the harvesting process. Please correct me if I’m wrong and give me additional information on this subject.
You are correct. Non-GMO Project Certification only verifies that a product doesn’t contain genetically modified (GMO) ingredients (or technically less than 0.9% GMOs). Even though a product may display Non-GMO Project labels and indeed be free of GMOs, it can still be laden with toxic pesticide residues, antibiotics, RoundUp, Hexane, and other less-desirable residues from conventional agriculture. Although many have argued with our belief that USDA Organic certification is preferable, we’re sticking to that opinion until further notice. 🙂
Can you tell me more about Alvarado St. Bakery products? Are their products considered organic and non-GMO?
Their website claims their products are “certified” organic. If you see some sort of third party certification insignia on the label (e.g., USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Certified, etc.) then the answer would be yes. Learn more about the relationship between organic and GMO on this page of our website.
Hello and thank you for this article! Comments are even more informative here😀 My question is about Sweetened condenced milk from Nestle/la lechera/ product of Chile. I’re read already that Nestle food as not as good as it sounds but it tastes the best for me 👍 Would you say it is also has GMO? Are there any better alternatives you can advise? Thanks again!
Kate, unless a product specifically says USDA Organic or Certified by the Non-GMO Project, there is a strong likelihood that it contains GMOs. For the Spanish version of Nestle’s sweetened condensed milk, the ingredients simply say “milk, sugar.” However milk that is not USDA Organic can contain rBGH, and was likely from cows that ate GMO corn. Sugar that is not USDA Organic can be sourced from GMO sugar beets (although there are many sources of sugar, and we were unable to track down what Nestle’s source is for this particular product). Bear in mind too… non-organic products are typically raised with pesticides somewhere in the growth cycle… it’s just as important to avoid those! 🙂
Do you update this list?
Whenever our extremely limited personal time gives us a spare moment, yes. 🙂
Thank you so much for this amazing list of organic companies both large and small ! My major issue is with companies saying NON GMO like this is a great thing , It is slightly deceptive. I am printing your article so I can share with people! ORGANIC or Nothing:)certified USDA of course