There is a high level of concentration in the global food industry with only a few major companies controlling a large portion of the market. These companies have a dominating influence over the production, distribution, and pricing of food products. Many of these companies are involved in a range of food products, including both processed and fresh foods, and operate globally. The high level of concentration in the food industry leads to a lack of competition, which results in higher prices for consumers and lower quality products. Additionally, the consolidation of the food industry leads to a lack of transparency and accountability, as well as a lack of choice for consumers. Studies have also linked the concentration of the food industry with significant negative impacts on small farmers, and food workers.
Key findings on Food Monopolies:
- Studies have found that a small number of large companies dominate the global food industry. According to Oxfam’s “Behind the Brands” report, the top 10 food and beverage companies control around a quarter of the global market share.
- The top 10 food and beverage companies are responsible for a large portion of the world’s most popular food and beverage brands. For example, Nestle, PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola alone control over half of the global market for non-alcoholic beverages.
- USA Today and Business Insider similarly report that 10 companies control almost all of the world’s food brands. The list of companies includes: Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods, and Mondelez.
- A 2021 investigation by The Guardian found that just four companies control about 80% of the global grain trade, and that three companies control about 80% of the global seed market.
- In the United States, a 2021 report from The Guardian found that just four companies control about 82% of the beef packing industry, and that three companies control about 67% of the chicken industry.
- The top four meatpacking companies in the U.S. (JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill, and National Beef) control around 84% of the country’s beef market.
- The concentration of market power in the food industry has been increasing in recent decades. For example, the top four firms in the U.S. grocery retail sector controlled around 43% of the market in 2015, up from 17% in 1980.
- These large companies often have monopoly power, which allows them to set prices and limit competition. For example, a few companies control the majority of the organic food market
- This concentration of power has led to higher prices for consumers and lower profits for farmers. For example, food prices in the US have increased in recent years due, in part, to monopoly power in the food system
- These companies have significant market power, which allows them to influence prices and drive out smaller competitors.
- Small and medium-sized farms often struggle to compete with large agribusinesses, leading to a decline in their numbers and a loss of diversity in the food system. For example, a small number of large companies control the majority of the meat industry in the US.
- Many of these large food companies also have a significant presence in the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). For example, one study found that SNAP beneficiaries spent $15 billion on junk food in 2015.
- These large companies often have a significant influence on policy and regulation, which can further benefit their business interests. The food industry has been successful in lobbying against policies that would promote healthy eating while gaining government subsidies for junk food.
The concentration of power in the food industry has negative consequences for consumers, farmers, and the environment. It creates higher prices for consumers and lower prices for farmers. It also leads to more environmentally damaging practices, as large companies may prioritize maximizing profits over sustainability.
- Companies that control the world’s food – USA TODAY
- How 4 companies control almost all the meat you eat – Yahoo!
- Revealed- the true extent of America’s food monopolies, and who pays the price – The Guardian
- The illusion of choice- five stats that expose America’s food monopoly crisis – The Guardian
- U.S. Food Prices Are Up. How Monopoly Power Makes this Worse – Time
- 10 companies control the food industry – Business Insider
- 10 companies that control the world’s food – MarketWatch
- 10 Largest Food Companies in the World – Largest.org
- These 10 Companies Control Enormous Number Of Consumer Brands [GRAPHIC] – HuffPost
- These 10 Companies Control The World’s Food – HuffPost
- America’s food monopolies and power imbalances – Food Politics
- Concentration and Power in the Food System: Who Controls What We Eat? – Philip H. Howard
- New Book Reveals Food Monopolies are Everywhere – Research at Michigan State University
- The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies – Food & Water Watch
- The Food System- Concentration and Its Impacts – Farm Action
- 3 Big Companies That Dominate The Organic Foods Market – Benzinga
- Behind the Brands – Oxfam International
- See How Only Ten Companies Own All the World’s Food Brands In This Telling Infographic – TwentyTwoWords
- These 5 Companies Own Most Of The World’s Largest Food, Beverage Brands – BisNow
- This Infographic Shows How Only 10 Companies Own All The World’s Food Brands – Good.is
- These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better – Oxfam
Facts and Stats
- Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies – Oxfam – PDF
- Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies – SUMMARY – Oxfam – PDF
- Concentration and Consolidation in the U.S. Food Supply Chain: The Latest Evidence and Implications for Consumers, Farmers, and Policymakers – Fed – PDF
Consolidation in America’s Food Supply Chains: A Key Factor in Price Gouging, Shortages, and Inequality Statement for the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law – PDF
- Market Share of 100 Grocery Items – PDF
- The Economic Cost of Food Monopolies – Food & Water Watch – PDF
- THE FOOD SYSTEM: CONCENTRATION AND ITS IMPACTS A Special Report to the Family Farm Action Alliance – PDF
- Top Food Conglomerates’ Widespread Presence in the Grocery Store – PDF
Grocery Store Mergers
- Grocery Prices Could Increase for Millions Under Proposed Store Merger – Newsweek
- Jewel and Mariano’s parent companies announce $24.6 billion merger – CBS Chicago
- Kroger and Albertsons plan merger to combine 2 largest supermarket chains – NPR
- The Kroger and Albertsons Merger Will Change the Way We Shop – The Takeout
- ‘We’re really worried’- US supermarket mega-merger raises mass layoff fears – The Guardian
- What this mega supermarket merger could mean for your grocery bills – CNN
- Why you should worry about the Kroger-Albertsons grocery store merge – Fast Company