Companies That Control the World’s Food

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Mondelez International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDLZ)
> Revenue: $35.3 billion
> Advertising spending: $1.9 billion
> Profits: $3.9 billion
> Employees: 107,000

In 2012, Kraft Foods split into two separate companies, Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez. While Kraft Foods Group took North American grocery brands, Mondelez took its snacks and candies brands, which include Cadbury, Nabisco, Oreo, and Trident, among many others. The company had over $35 billion in revenue and more than $72 billion in assets as of last year. It also employed 100,000 workers worldwide. According to Oxfam, Mondelez received low marks for its transparency, as well as for its handling of issues related to climate change and workers.

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Nestle S.A.
> Revenue: $103.5 billion
> Advertising spending: $3.0 billion
> Profits: $11.2 billion
> Employees: 333,000

By many measures, Nestle is the largest of the 10 food companies, with more than 92 billion Swiss francs in revenue last year — net profit and total asset figures that dwarf other food companies — and roughly 333,000 employees. Nestle is also the top-rated company by Oxfam for its approach to major policy issues. It received the highest scores for addressing transparency, water use, and climate change of any major food company. In its 2013 report, Oxfam highlighted Nestle’s efforts in addressing labor abuses the company discovered in its cocoa supply chain in the Ivory Coast.

PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP)
> Revenue: $66.4 billion
> Advertising spending: $2.5 billion
> Profits: $6.7 billion
> Employees: 274,000

In addition to owning famous soda brands such as Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and Gatorade, PepsiCo also controls food brands such as Tostitos, Doritos, and Quaker. PepsiCo also employed nearly a quarter of a million people worldwide at the end of 2013. Pepsi was among the world’s biggest advertisers. Advertising Age estimates that PepsiCo’s worldwide media spending totalled $2.5 billion in 2012. According to three groups that measure brand value — Interbrand, BrandZ, and CoreBrand — Pepsi is one of the world’s most valuable brands in any industry. While PepsiCo received a lower score on policy issues than three other companies reviewed by Oxfam, it has developed a reputation for company responsibility in at least one area. CEO Indra Nooyi has pushed for healthier products in her time at the helm of the company.

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Unilever Group
> Revenue: $68.5 billion
> Advertising spending: $7.4 billion
> Profits: $6.7 billion
> Employees: 174,381

Unilever products are hardly limited to food and drinks. The U.K.- and Netherlands-based group also makes personal care and home care products. Still, its foods and refreshments businesses accounted for almost 23 billion euros of the company’s nearly 50 billion euros in revenue last year. Brands owned by Unilever include Lipton tea, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, to name only a few. Unilever generally scores fairly well for its efforts in addressing policy issues. Oxfam rated it above all other companies for its worker and farming policies. Only Nestle received a higher overall rating for its handling of the issues highlighted by Oxfam.