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Big Tobacco Becomes Big Food

Food and beverage companies have expanded to enormous size in just the past 25 years. In 2000, seven U.S. companies—Philip Morris, ConAgra, Mars, IBP, Sara Lee, Heinz, and Tyson Foods—ranked among the 10 largest food companies in the world. Nestle (Switzerland) ranked first and Unilever (U.K./Netherlands) third with Danone (France) sixth. By 1997 just three U.S. companies—Philip Morris (+ Kraft Foods + Miller Brewing), ConAgra, and RJR-Nabisco— accounted for ~20% of all food expenditures [1, p. 13]. Mergers among food and cigarette companies—R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris particularly—led to unprecedented control of the processed food industry. A few of the food industry mergers are as follows [1, p. 13]:

Nestle: Carnation foods, Lean Cuisine, Butterfinger Candy

Unilever: Lipton tea, Wishbone salad dressing, Best Foods, Thomas English muffins, Skippy peanut butter, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Slim Fast

Philip Morris: Kraft Foods, Jello, Altoid Mints

Pepsico: Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Lay’s potato chips, Tropicana fruit juices

Kellogg: Cereals, Eggo frozen waffles

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