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: In April 2014, Post acquired Michael Foods ($2.45B), Hillshire Brands acquired Van’s Natural Foods ($165M), and Treehouse Foods acquired Protenergy Natural Foods ($150M).

Most acquisitions of organic processors occurred between December, 1997 when the draft USDA standard was released, and its full implementation in October, 2002. 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 




Network Animation of Data from 1995 to 2007


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Produced in collaboration with Skye Bender-deMoll, an author of SoNIA - Social Network Image Animator.



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]