Organic Processing Industry Structure

The development of the USDA National Organic Standard in place of differing state/regional standards was widely predicted to accelerate trends of increasing consolidation in this sector. The first draft of the standard was released in 1997; what changes in ownership and control have since occurred?

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PDF version of Organic Industry Structure: Acquisitions & Alliances, Top 100 Food Processors in North America

Updates: August 2015, Flowers Foods (#37) acquired Dave’s Killer Bread ($275M), WhiteWave acquired Wallaby Yogurt ($125M); June 2015, Campbell Soup Co. acquired Garden Fresh Gourmet ($231M); May 2015, Hormel (#15) acquired Applegate Farms ($775M), ConAgra acquired Blake’s; January 2015, Post acquired MOM Brands/Malt-O-Meal/BetterOats ($1.15B); September 2014, General Mills acquired Annie’s Homegrown ($820 M), WhiteWave acquired So Delicious ($195 M). August 2014, Tyson acquired Hillshire Brands ($8.5B); April 2014, Post acquired Michael Foods ($2.45 B), Hillshire Brands acquired Van’s Natural Foods ($165 M), Treehouse Foods acquired Protenergy Natural Foods ($150 M), and Hain Celestial acquired Rudi’s Organic Bakery ($61 M).

The first wave of acquisitions of organic processors was concentrated between December, 1997 when the draft USDA standard was released, and its full implementation in October, 2002. A second wave of acquisitions has been occurring since 2012. Few companies identify these ownership ties on product labels.1

Heinz acquired a 19.5% stake in Hain Celestial in 1999 while also transferring ownership of their Earth's Best brand, but sold all of its Hain Celestial stock in 2005.





PDF version of Organic Industry Structure: Major Independents and Their Subsidiary Brands

Most remaining independent organic processors have resisted substantial buyout offers (typically 2 times annual sales).2 
Updates: Applegate Farms is no longer independent, acquired by Hormel in May 2015 for $775 million (following an investment from Swander Pace Capital in 2009); So Delicious/Turtle Mountain/So Delicious is no longer independent, acquired by WhiteWave in September 2014 for $195 million.




Network Animation of Data from 1995 to 2007


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PDF version of Organic Industry Structure: Private Label Brands

An increasing number of supermarkets, wholesale clubs and distributors are introducing organic private label products, in addition to chains that specialize in organic and natural foods. 


See also:
Organic Brands, Organic Distribution & Retail, Organic Farms

Literature Cited
1. Howard, Philip H. 2009. Consolidation in the North American Organic Food Processing Sector, 1997 to 2007. International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food 16(1), 13-30. [PDF]
2. Howard, Philip H. 2009. Organic Industry Structure. Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus, 5(3). [online]