A friend of mine recently found a map of ownership relationships in the organic food industry pinned up in a neighbor’s kitchen. A bit of searching led us to Phil Howard‘s work tracking the growth and mergers of companies and brands. He kindly shared his data with me so we could use SoNIA to make a network animation showing major brand introductions and ownership relations from 1995 to 2007.
In the movie the yellow nodes are food processors, blue are investment firms, green are organic brands, and red are new organic brand introductions. It looks like Hain is the current big player, and they do an interesting do-si-do with Heniz in 2002. There is also a surge in organic brand introductions in 2005. Also in 2000 there is a nice transfer where Spectrum Organics appears to sell off Millina’s Finest and Frutti di Bosco to Walnut Acres / Acirca. The end result seems to be that by 2007 there are very few independent brands left.  Something I was aware of, but nice to see someone collecting the data to demonstrate it empirically. Howard has published on this in the past and says that a paper on all this data is in progress, should be interesting.
Dr. Howard also has a nice collection of infographics on the organics industry on his site including various nuanced networks and maps. My favorite are the tree-styled timelines showing the merger relations. Kinda reminded me of a plot I’d previously seen for the media industry.
All of this made my trip to the supermarket yesterday a bit surreal…