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Big Food Companies Keep their Leads on Top 50 List

The Packaged Strategies list of the Top 50 Food Packaging Companies once again named Nestle SA, JBS USA, Tyson Foods, PepsiCo and Mars Inc. the top five food manufacturers.

Nestle’s total revenue in 2017 was $72.7 billion, JBS’ was $49.3 billion, Tyson’s was $38.3 billion, PepsiCo’s was $33.7 billion and Mars’ was $31.9 billion. 

The list didn’t include major food ingredient suppliers, and manufacturers were identified based only on their food product sales.

Larger food firms are acquiring other medium-to-large competitors to consolidate brands or add complementary products. Over the past year, Nestle acquired a majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee for $425 million; Mondelez, 6th on the list, bought Tate’s Bake Shop for $500 million; General Mills, 11th, bought pet food company Blue Buffalo for $8 billion; Campbell Soup Co., 22nd, acquired Snyder’s-Lance snacks for $5 billion; and The Hershey Co., 25th, purchased SkinnyPop popcorn-maker Amplify Snack Brands for $1.6 billion.

Food companies like PepsiCo are taking advantage of wellness trends by dividing product lines based on how healthy the foods are for consumers.

The business model for these national brands is undergoing substantial change due to retail consolidation, increased competition from start-ups and consumers not being as loyal to certain brands as they were in the past.

The growth of cheaper private brands and the rise of retail discounters like Aldi, Lidl, Dollar General and Dollar Tree limiting larger food manufacturers from raising prices, while still maintaining their competitive edge.

Rather than developing new product lines or introducing healthier products and ingredients, food companies are opting instead to buy smaller competitors who can do the job for them. These acquisitions are frequently less costly than if the companies were to develop these newer products internally in research and development.

Start-ups can take more risks with flavors and textures, and can often demand a premium price. They don’t have the same constraints as traditional food manufacturers, such as having to perform to investors’ expectations or converting large-scale, established product lines to deliver a new feature or format.

For the full story, go to this week’s Food Institute Report.